Missed call almost costly for big Red
QUEENSLAND Reds front-rower Albert Anae had a missed call from a number he didn't know on his mobile a couple of hours before he was due to make his debut for Kiwi side Bay of Plenty.
The Wellington-born, Brisbane-raised Anae thought nothing more of it - until he realised Wallabies and Queensland captain James Horwill had also been trying to contact him.
Anae, who made his Super Rugby debut for the Reds in 2011, their championship-winning season, called Horwill and asked 'what's up?'.
The answer was that his former Reds coach, and newly appointed Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie, needed to speak to him urgently and he had rung his mobile.
Anae, who has represented Australia at schoolboy, under-19 and under-20 level, said he wasn't to know McKenzie had called - he didn't leave a message.
"I returned the one to the number that I knew (Horwill) and he put me on to McKenzie straight away," Anae said. "What made it worse was that he (Horwill) didn't tell me what he (McKenzie) wanted either.
"I seriously thought I was in trouble for something so I tried to think what I might have done wrong - it was a worry for sure."
But Anae, who played half a game in the 32-17 National Provincial Championship defeat against Auckland at Eden Park on Saturday, need not have worried, or sweated a bit over it - far from it.
McKenzie wanted him to fly back to Australia immediately as injury cover ahead of the Rugby Championship clash with the All Blacks in Sydney, and he wasted little time in doing so.
"I was at the airport less than 30 minutes after I spoke to him," Anae laughed.
Anae, who played 11 Super Rugby games for the Reds last season, as well as in their clash against the British and Irish Lions in June, didn't get to play against the All Blacks, but said he cherished every moment of the camp.
"It was such a huge buzz," Anae, who can also play at both prop and hooker, said.
"It was an amazing feeling just putting on that training gear and being a part of it all - it felt surreal."
Although he's now back in NZ and focused on giving his all for BOP, Anae said he would be checking his phone more frequently especially now he knows McKenzie's number.
"You just never know," he said.
The Wallabies next Rugby Championship match is against South Africa in Brisbane on Saturday night.