BEN Newton’s first game for Australia isn’t far away after being selected in the first tier Australian wheelchair rugby team on Monday.
Named as one of the top seven players in Australia, the 22-year-old is almost assured of playing with the world championship silver medallists.
“They’re restructuring the Australian program so that it’s made up of seven tier-one players who go to all of the training camps and the tournaments,” Newton said.
The calendar ahead for the Australian team includes a tour to the United Kingdom in the middle of 2011 as well as the Oceania Zone championships to be played in Korea at the end of the next year.
“Things are looking good hopefully,” he said.
“So long as I keep working hard, hopefully I’ll be going to both.”
When it comes to working hard, Newton will be spending nearly 20 hours per week ensuring that he’s ready to represent his country to the best of his ability.
“After Christmas I’ll get put onto a new training program which is basically six days a week of sessions in the gym and sessions on court.”
“It’s also keeping on top of any sort of injuries and that sort of stuff.”
With the incentive of a spot in the Australian team in front of him, there’s no way now that Newton is about to slow down in the pursuit of his dream.
“I’ve been to a couple of training camps with the Aussie boys but this is my first selection,” he said excitedly.
Head coach of the Australian Steelers, Brad Dubberley, called the Coffs Harbour boy, who now lives in Brisbane, with the good news on Monday and Newton admitted that even after a stellar season playing with the Gold Coast Titans in the national league, the news came as a surprise.
“I was one of the All-Star players in the National League this year so I thought I was in with a shot of tier two but I certainly didn’t expect to be in tier one,” he said.
During the phone conversation with the coach, Newton said that he received some outstanding feedback from Dubberley.
“He just said that he was impressed with all of the hard work that I had shown as well as the perseverance after I relocated to Queensland to have a better training support,” he recalled.
“They were really impressed with how much I’d improved over the past 12 months.”
It was improvement that he admitted he may never have found if he didn’t bite the bullet and move up north.
“I feel like a completely different player compared to 12 months ago,” he said.
“It’s been the harder work as well, as both of the Australian co-captains play for Queensland so I’ve been able to learn a lot off those guys.”
Having graduated from his psychology degree in June, Newton is now trying to find a position that helps him balance out work and his wheelchair rugby commitments.
With overseas tours on the horizon and hopefully many more after that, Newton will need to be on the lookout for a boss who is offering some flexible hours as there’s plenty of hard work on the court ahead.