MELBOURNE, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Australia prop James Slipper is in line to celebrate his 100th test cap in Saturday’s second Tri-Nations game against New Zealand, a milestone that was far from his thoughts when frozen out by the Queensland Reds two years ago.
Slipper was handed a two-month ban after testing positive twice for cocaine at the start of the 2018 season, leading to him falling out with the Reds’ disciplinarian coach Brad Thorn.
Battling depression at the time, Slipper was never selected for the Reds again despite having represented the provincial side in over 100 Super Rugby matches.
The ACT Brumbies threw Slipper a lifeline after the 2018 season and he took the chance with both hands, working his way back into the Wallabies frame the following year to play a third Rugby World Cup under Michael Cheika.
“I wasn’t thinking about hitting 100 (test) caps, that couldn’t have been any further away from my thought process at the time,” the 31-year-old Slipper told reporters on Tuesday.
“Thinking back when I had the change, going to the Brumbies I just wanted to play consistent rugby.
“That was my one goal, I just wanted to contribute to whatever team I was playing for and I feel like I’ve done that.”
Under new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, Slipper has started in all three Bledisloe Cup matches against the All Blacks, and is likely to picked again for Saturday’s clash at Lang Park, the Reds’ home ground.
He said last week’s record 43-5 drubbing by the All Blacks in Sydney had made it hard to reflect on an international career that began with a run off the bench and a 27-17 win over England in Perth in 2010.
“It’s been a bit of a tough couple of days to get my head back in the game and make sure I’m ready to play this weekend -- whether I get the selection or not,” said Slipper.
“To play 100 games, it’s obviously an honour and all those things. If I’m playing and everything goes my way I want to win the game more than anything.”
Editing Peter Rutherford
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