By MITCHELL DALE
UNIVERSITY had just lost the 2004 Brisbane Premier League rugby grand final and outside centre Drew Mitchell was feeling pretty low.
But one phone call was all it took for his world to get a whole lot brighter.
Mitchell fielded a call from Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, who delivered the words every young footballer dreams about ? 'Congratulations, you've made your first Australian squad' or something like that anyway.
"I was back at the clubhouse when I got the call," Mitchell recalled yesterday.
"It was a bitter-sweet moment, losing the grand final was bad, but making the squad got my spirits up a bit.
"I didn't expect to be named (in the Wallabies squad), there was no indication about my selection beforehand, so it was a big thrill."
But there was a catch.
Mitchell received the news on Sunday night, but the squad wasn't to be announced until Tuesday, meaning he had to keep his selection under wraps.
"I couldn't tell anyone apart from my family, which was hard," he said.
"Everyone must have wondered what I was so happy about."
Wallabies selection capped one helluva 12-month period for Mitchell.
The fleet-footed outside back has risen through the rugby ranks at nose-bleed pace, going from virtual unknown at the start of the season to Australian representative.
"This time last year I was about four days off starting pre-season training with the Reds," he said.
"My main goal was to get a spot on the Reds' bench, I never even imagined I would be here.
"Looking back it has been a pretty awesome year."
One of only two new faces in the squad (NSW rookie Stephen Hoiles in the other debutant), Mitchell knows there is plenty of work ahead.
"The volume of things to learn, like playing patterns and calls, has been pretty big," he said.
"Most of the team has been together all year, so I have a bit of catching up to do.
"I will have to keep my head in the play books for the next two weeks to get up to speed on everything."