SYDNEY (Reuters) - Cadeyrn Neville could not be blamed for thinking his chances of a test rugby career had long passed him by but the 31-year-old could turn out the right man in the right place at the right time for Australia this year.
With Wallabies coach Dave Rennie facing a severe lack of depth in the second-row department, a string of strong performances before the COVID-19 shutdown has put Neville in the frame for international honours.
His return to Australian rugby with the ACT Brumbies after three years in Japan was stopped in its tracks by an ankle fracture but he put in a big shift in his first match back last weekend as the New South Wales Waratahs were routed 38-11.
Rennie has included Neville on his list of “Players Of National Interest” and even if the New Zealander has been at pains to stress it is by no means a Wallabies squad, Neville was happy to be there.
“Without being able to press my case, it’s pretty nice to be in the mix,” Neville told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
“I know it’s just a working list at the moment, but it’s better to be on it than not on it. Hopefully keep putting in good performances and hopefully I’ll be in the squad when it’s announced.”
Neville has reason for caution as he was called into Robbie Deans’s Wallabies training squad in 2012 but never got his chance to pull on the famous gold shirt.
His chances this time around look much better with none of the specialist locks in last year’s World Cup squad likely to be available to Rennie.
A former rower who represented Australia at the Youth Olympics, Neville was brought in by the Brumbies as an experienced hand to help guide the group of promising young locks on their books.
He has impressed so much, however, that the club has handed him a new deal to keep him in the Australian capital until the end of 2022.
“He hasn’t had a full pre-season with us yet and we feel Caderyn’s best footy lays in front of him at the Brumbies, and also as he pushes for higher honours,” said coach Dan McKellar.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford
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