Hugh?s rapid rise
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
A WHIRLWIND ascension through the ranks has seen Queensland lock Hugh McMeniman selected on the bench for tomorrow night's test match against Samoa after only one year in Super 12.
"It's just been amazing," McMeniman said about his rapid rise to the national team.
"I was just aiming for a bench spot with the Reds at the start of the year and now I'm with the Wallabies squad."
When the Wallabies' training squad was being announced, McMeniman was at the awards dinner for the Queensland Reds when the calls were coming in to inform players of their selection.
"I actually got told in a phone message from team manager Phil Thompson," the 21 year-old said.
"I very quickly rang the boys to check that it wasn't a joke they were playing on me.
"But I'm over the moon, it's real exciting."
An opening for McMeniman's selection was made after regular Wallabies Justin Harrison and Dan Vickerman were both injured in the Super 12 final a fortnight ago.
"I wouldn't be here if they didn't get injured, I suppose it's just luck.
"I just need to put my best foot forward now."
Selection for the Wallabies also means that this is the first time the Queenslander has been to Camp Wallaby at Pacific Bay.
"The facilities are unreal," he said.
"They're the best to help you do everything you can to perform at your best.
"It's a nice town and I like it by the ocean.
"I've also already been to a couple of restaurants in town and they're pretty impressive so far."
As much as the 200cm giant is enjoying the hospitality of Coffs Harbour, deep down he's just a Queensland boy at heart.
McMeniman recently re-signed with the Reds until the end of 2007 despite receiving an attractive offer from the new kid on the provincial football block, the Western Force.
"The Force's presentation was very impressive and John Mitchell speaks very well and you can see that he knows how to relate to the players.
"But deep down it was just a case of Queensland being my home.
"I know that I'll be able to perform better up there.
"Some guys are going to the Force but that means that there'll be more young guys coming through."
Now that he's set to make his Australian debut, McMeniman can't wait for tomorrow nights test match to start.
"It's a great feeling," he said.
"We've been working at training getting our plays down pat and watching plenty of videos of how Samoa play.
"We know that Samoa are physical and they're going to come out and try and bash us.
"It should be a heap of fun."
Wallaby team vs Samoa: 15. Chris Latham, 14. Wendell Sailor, 13. Stirling Mortlock, 12. Morgan Turinui, 11. Clyde Rathbone, 10. Matt Giteau, 9. Chris Whitaker, 8. David Lyons, 7. George Smith, 6. Rocky Elsom, 5. Nathan Sharpe (capt.), 4. Mark Chisolm, 3. Matt Dunning, 2. Jeremy Paul, 1. Bill Young.
Reserves: 16. Stephen Moore, 17. Nic Henderson, 18. Hugh McMeniman, 19. John Roe, 20. Matt Henjak, 21. Stephen Larkham, 22. Mat Rogers.