June 8 proves to be Valentine?s day
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
YESTERDAY'S selection on the bench for the Wallabies reserve scrum-half position seemed only a dream 14 months ago for Josh Valentine.
Playing for the Queensland Reds last April in Cape Town, Valentine suffered a horrific knee injury that threatened to derail his career but that is now a distant memory for the boy who grew up in the Hunter Valley town of Singleton.
"To go from the doctor telling you that you might not play competitive football again and then coming back within six months was big enough," the uncapped 23 year-old said moments after his selection was announced.
"To now be a part of the Wallaby team is even bigger and I'm over the moon."
Proof of how surprised Valentine is about his selection is the limited expectations that he held in the lead up to this winter's series of Wallaby test matches.
"I definitely didn't expect this at this stage of my career," he admitted.
"I was surprised to be named in the initial squad of 43 players, then when I was part of the last 33 I was excited.
"To be named as officially part of the squad and now get the call up into the 22 is even more exciting."
Included as a late replacement for fellow Reds halfback Sam Cordingley, who has been ruled out through injury, Valentine has been thrust into the spotlight as captain George Gregan's understudy for this Sunday night's clash against England.
The former Queensland rookie of the year doesn't hold much hope of having a large amount of game time this weekend, if he in fact gets any, such is his respect for the long serving Wallaby skipper.
"He's been around a long time and is such a good player," Valentine said in admiration.
"He's taken me under his wing at training and I've learnt a few tricks of the trade off him.
"George has got plenty of critics and the pressure is on him to play good footy all the time but he'll play well against England, I'm pretty confident of that."
Australian team to play England: Chris Latham, Mark Gerrard, Stirling Mortlock, Mat Rogers, Lote Tuqiri, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan (capt), Rocky Elsom, George Smith, Daniel Heenan, Dan Vickerman, Nathan Sharpe, Rodney Blake, Tai McIsaac, Greg Holmes. Res: Jeremy Paul, Al Baxter, Mark Chisholm, Phil Waugh, Josh Valentine, Clyde Rathbone, Cameron Shepherd.