'I wasn't expecting it': Wallabies rookie opens up on shock inclusion in Dave Rennie's squad
Josh Kemeny was the Waratahs’ loss and the Rebels’ gain and that could extend to the Wallabies after the flanker’s shock selection in next month’s training camp.
The 22-year-old was a bolter in Sunday’s 40-man squad after making an impressive start to Melbourne’s Super Rugby AU season.
Kemeny said he was “over the moon” to be selected in the squad for a three-day camp on the Gold Coast next month.
“It’s always something that’s in the back of everyone’s mind but I wasn’t expecting it and I was thrilled,” Kemeny told AAP.
“I called my family straight away … rugby has been a big part of my life and obviously their lives as well and just to be included in something like a training squad, they were thrilled as well.”
The captain of his Sydney school team and member of the 2018 Australian under 20s side, Kemeny was right under the noses of the Waratahs when he was playing for Sydney Uni in the Shute Shield in 2019.
Melbourne coach Dave Wessels went to a match in Sydney to watch NSW hooker Tom Horton but said his head was turned by No 6 Kemeny, who made his Super Rugby AU debut last season.
The winless Waratahs, whose dismal recruitment and retention of players has contributed to their freefall, made a late play for Kemeny but he was already headed south.
“I was happy to get any opportunity anywhere and when this one came up I was really happy to jump on it,” he said.
He felt his progress had been fast-tracked by Melbourne’s season on the road last year, when he was living and breathing rugby.
“It was essentially being on tour for a number of months and it really meant that you had to buy in and adopt the team culture and it allowed me to see how senior players go about their business,” Kemeny said.
The blindside flanker is 193cm and 110kg and is quick for his size, topping the Rebels forwards in fitness drills.
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Wessels said Kemeny, who was one of seven Rebels included in the squad, was always looking to improve.
“Josh is one of a number of exciting young players that we have and he works incredibly hard on his game,” Wessels told AAP.
“He was one of the stand-out players in terms of his effort in the pre-season and I’m really pleased to see that being rewarded with some recognition in the Wallabies mix.”
Melbourne will host the unbeaten Reds on Saturday night at AAMI Park.
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