Yamba star now a junior Wallaby
THE Clarence Valley is shaping as a nursery for North Coast rugby talent with news former Yamba star Kane Douglas has been named in the Australian team for the under-20s Rugby World Cup in Japan next month.
Douglas' selection follows the selection of former Grafton star A J Whalley in the team for the 2002 under-21 World Cup in South Africa in 2002.
Selection with the junior Wallabies came as a relief for the giant second row (lock) forward who weighs in at 116kg and stands 201cm tall.
“I missed out last season when I thought I was pretty close to selection,” he said, “so it felt good when I heard I was in.
“They told me I would get a call last Monday or Tuesday to confirm selection and they didn't call until 6 or 7pm on Tuesday. But I wasn't stressing or anything.”
The selectors have shown a lot faith in Douglas who has spent much of the season on the sidelines; first with a broken hand and most recently a stress fracture in his back.
In fact this weekend will be his first game back with Sydney Rugby club Southern Districts after five weeks out.
His season began before Christmas with a tour to Fiji with the Waratahs and then he played trials against Queensland, Fiji and the ACT in the Waratahs' pre-season build up. He has also played two games with the junior Waratahs.
Douglas attended the last under-20s camp in April with the stress fracture and was pleased with his treatment.
“Even though I couldn't do much they treated me as one of the players and were really positive,” he said.
The junior Wallabies will play club football next week and then gather in Canberra on May 21 for a week-long camp to prepare them for a gruelling three weeks in Fukuoka, Japan.
Douglas said Australian Rugby was looking to this team to restore some prestige after a disappointing effort in 2008, when the junior Wallabies finished fifth.
“I think there's a feeling that there were too many individual efforts from some players,” Douglas said.
“They're stressing to us that they want players who want to go there to win the tournament, not just be happy to have made the squad.”
The Australian team includes nine players with Super 14 experience including Waratah stars Kurtley Beale and Rob Horne.
“It will be great to have their experience in the squad,” Douglas said. “In fact I have trained with most of them.”
Douglas has been living in Sydney for the past three years, sharing a house with his older brother Luke, who plays rugby league for the Cronulla Sharks.
Neither of the brothers has enjoyed much success on the field, with Southern Districts one win from six games and the Sharks sitting in last place, also with just one victory.
Kane said the Sharks were feeling the loss of former Test halfback Brett Kimmorley and hooker Isaac de Gois, but was at a loss to explain why the club was performing so badly.
“There's plenty of good players in the team. They should be going better than they are. But I could say the same thing about Southern Districts,” he said.
“We've only had one win from five games, but the win was Sydney Uni, last year's premiers. Go figure.”
Away from the field the two brothers are having a wow of a time.
“It's a pretty cruisy house,” Kane said. “It's all footy and we eat heaps.
“When we were little we used to come here for holidays and we've got lots of rellies living here.
“It's like a second home to us.”
Albert Anae (QLD), Kurtley Beale (NSW), Corey Brown (NSW), Nathan Charles (ACT), Rod Davies (QLD), Kane Douglas (NSW), Damian Fitzpatrick (NSW), Talalelei Gray (ACT), Dane Haylett-Petty (WA), Rob Horne (NSW), Richard Kingi (QLD), Kesomi Lolotonga (ACT), Sam Latunipulu (NSW), David McDuling (NSW), Tom Murday (QLD), James O'Connor (WA), Jake Shatz (QLD), Andrew Shaw (QLD), Rob Simmons (QLD), James Slipper (QLD), Mark Swanepoel (WA), Afusipa Taumoepeau (ACT), Ben Tapuai (QLD), Matt Toomua (ACT), Nicholas White (ACT), Ben Whittaker (WA).