Maitland Blacks junior Nic White has been selected in the Wallabies training squad for next week’s historic Test match at Hunter Stadium.
The 39-man squad was announced at Australian Rugby Union headquarters last night and the ACT Brumbies halfback was named among the players who will prepare for the June 5 fixture against Scotland.
This will be the first rugby union Test played in the Hunter Valley, the same place White was born and bred.
Originally from Scone, the now 21-year-old moved to the Maitland area with his family in 2002 and, less than a decade after donning the Blacks jersey, White is on the brink of representing his country on the international stage.
The chance to wear the green and gold comes after the former student at All Saints College, St Peter’s Campus, Maitland, earned the starting number nine spot with the Brumbies when the 2012 Super Rugby season kicked off.
Since being elevated to the first XV the Australian under 20s representative has helped turn around the club’s recent form and with four rounds remaining the Brumbies lead the Australian conference.
White, who also helped Eastwood to claim a premiership in the Sydney grade competition in 2011, has been in the nation’s capital as part of the Brumbies system for the past few seasons and made his Super Rugby debut at the end of last year.
But it was Saturday night’s showing from White, despite the Brumbies narrow 13-12 loss to defending Super Rugby champions the Queensland Reds in Canberra, which assured the latest call up.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was at White’s game on the weekend and he received news of his selection shortly after full-time.
White joins a line of gifted half backs to emerge from Maitland and the Hunter Valley in recent times.
A fellow Blacks junior Luke Burgess finished his time with the Wallabies following last year’s World Cup as Australia’s third most capped halfback, while Singleton pair Josh Valentine and Steve Merrick have also represented their country at the base
of the scrum during the last two decades.
In terms of the Maitland Rugby Club and according to available records, White is one of five players to have reached this level.
The most recent representatives have been Burgess, Rod Clarke (Australian squad ahead of the 1991 World Cup).
The proud record dates back to Charles White (part of inaugural international against England in 1899 and member of first trans-Tasman Test against New Zealand in 1910) and Charles Hodgins (three Tests against New Zealand in 1910) who pioneered the path to international level.
In a recent interview with the Mercury White said he was beginning to settle into the Super Rugby scene. “I’m starting to feel comfortable out there and starting to feel able to do what I want to do and not just out there as just another number,” White said.
“I’m out there to do a cause and play my role as the number nine in the team and lead the team around the park.”
Former Newcastle Knights player now Melbourne Rebels winger Cooper Vuna was also included in the training squad.
The final Wallabies team will be announced on Saturday.
# See today’s Mercury for your chance to win tickets to the Wallabies Test against Scotland at Hunter Stadium on June 5.