Joe Powell on getting the call-up for the Wallabies. By Richard Cooke.


Throwing in the Powell: Joe Powell, 24, rugby player

I grew up in Canberra, and Dad loved rugby. From a young age, we would always go to Brumbies games. I’ve been supporting the Brumbies for a long time, so I’m pretty happy to be playing for them at the moment.

I didn’t really put huge pressure on myself when I came out of school. I went on a bit of a gap year. A bit of travelling, and when I came back from that, I started uni, and I started my apprenticeship, and about halfway through my apprenticeship I started playing for the Brumbies. They called me in for a couple of games to cover for Nic White, who was injured at the time, so
I really didn’t play very much.

We’ve got new coaches at the Brumbies this year, and Dan McKellar being head coach, that’s a bit of a different feel around the club, which has been a nice little change-up from the past couple of years.

Last year was my first full year of starting every game, so I suppose I am settling into the rhythm of things. Hopefully I can build on how I went last year and just keep improving.

Fotunu’upule Auelua, he was just starting in Super Rugby, so me and him kind of felt our way through. Hopefully we can keep growing together this year. Also having Christian Lealiifano there to help us along has been really good.

Playing for the Wallabies didn’t really cross my mind until I was pulled into the squad. I didn’t even know the squad was getting picked on that day. I got an email on my phone and thought it was a bit of a stitch-up. I really didn’t know what to think about it.

I thought they’d mucked up, or sent it to the wrong person, but I was obviously very excited. My whole family was excited. I’d played maybe seven Super Rugby games, and only had 10 or 15 minutes off the bench, so it wasn’t as if I’d played a heap of games.

Stephen Larkham, who was with the Brumbies at the time, confirmed that it was legit. He had a smile on his face because he probably knew what I was coming up to see him about. Then he sat me down and explained why I was picked and what they saw.

The Wallabies are in a bit of a transition now. We’ve got a heap of new players coming in, myself included. I think there have been twenty-something debutants since the last World Cup. I suppose it’s an exciting time to be a part of a team that is changing. There are still plenty of spots up
for grabs.

It wasn’t all about rugby, I had other things going on in my life. I don’t take being a professional athlete for granted, because I remember back in the days when I did have a normal job. I’m definitely loving what I’m doing at the moment.

I wouldn’t really say there is much fame. I maybe get recognised once a month. I’m happy with it, it’s nice.

I had two cousins who played for Australia in hockey. But they didn’t have so much influence, probably because they were always living in different cities. But my family’s always been pretty sporty. Dad was really good at sport when he was young. It’s just been my family: having an older brother, and a younger brother, and a sister who all played sport from a young age.

Playing in New Zealand? I think we just go over and treat it like any other game, knowing that it’s hard to get a win away from home anywhere, whether you’re playing somewhere else in Australia, or in South Africa, or in New Zealand. It’s the same everywhere. You don’t want to put a thing around saying, “You know how hard it is to win over there”, otherwise you’re signing yourself out of it. It’s just about approaching the game how you approach any other game.


This week’s highlights…

• Horseracing: Thoroughbred Club Cup Day

Saturday, 1st race 12.05pm (AEST), Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne

• Netball: Melbourne Vixens v Collingwood Magpies

Saturday, 3pm (AEST), Hisense Arena, Melbourne

• NRL: North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra Raiders

Saturday, 7.35pm (AEST), 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville

• Rugby union: Super Rugby – Brumbies v Crusaders

Saturday, 7.45pm (AEST), GIO Stadium, Canberra

• Soccer: A-League semi-final – Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory

Saturday, 7.50pm (AEST), Allianz Stadium, Sydney

• AFL: Fremantle Dockers v West Coast Eagles

Sunday, 2.40pm (AWST), Optus Stadium, Perth


This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 28, 2018 as "Throwing in the Powell".

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Richard Cooke is a contributing editor to The Monthly, and the 2018 Mumbrella Publish Award Columnist of the Year.