VIDEO: Waratahs discard not just making up the numbers
Michael Wells can thank the Waratahs for a low-ball contract that changed his rugby mindset and helped him earn selection in the Wallabies squad for next month’s France series.
Wells won New South Wales forward of the year in 2018, but rather than a contract upgrade the Waratahs offered him a base-level deal, which the loose forward said was a “sting”.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit of a sting; it obviously dents your pride a bit,” the 28-year-old said.
Rather than blame the Waratahs, Wells used the burn to reflect on what he could do better.
Wells then moved on to the Melbourne Rebels and this season hit his strides as one of their most consistent performers, rewarded with his Wallabies call-up.
A former Australian Under-20 representative, Wells admitted he thought senior selection might have passed him by.
“Potentially I thought that but I just worried about playing the best that I could at the Rebels and thought that if I could string games together and do my job better it could get rewarded with higher selection,” Wells said.
Now that he is in the squad which assembled on the Gold Coast on Tuesday, Wells said he would be going all out to earn a spot in the side for the first Test at the SCG on July 7.
At blindside flank, he will be competing with Rob Valetini, Rob Leota, Lachie Swinton and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
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“I want to hit the ground running and do everything I can to push for selection,” he said.
“You’re not here to make up numbers, you’re here to make a difference so I’m not here to enjoy being a squad member.
“I definitely want to push the guys who have played games and do everything to put my hand up for selection.”
Swinton’s fate rests with a SANZAAR judiciary hearing on Thursday, when the NSW flank will fight a dangerous tackle charge that could rule him out of the three-Test series.
Swinton was sent off during the match, although Wallabies coach Dave Rennie deemed it only worthy of a yellow card.
His NSW teammate, centre Izaia Perese has been officially ruled out, requiring surgery after dislocating his shoulder in their final round Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match.
* Picture credit: Andrew Phan/Wallabies media