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Debut against Kiwis will cap oarsome rise to top


Josh Rakic

Swift success ... Rebels and former Manly second-rower Cadeyrn Neville could make his Wallabies debut against the All Blacks this month.

Swift success ... Rebels and former Manly second-rower Cadeyrn Neville could make his Wallabies debut against the All Blacks this month. Photo: Getty Images

IF Cadeyrn Neville continues his rapid rise from rower to Wallaby, expect to see the little-known 23-year-old facing the All Blacks on August 18. He'll be the tallest player on the field with a massive grin on his face.

Up until a little over three years ago, the 202-centimetre Manly product had never set foot in a lineout let alone contemplated representing the Wallabies. He was a rower, aiming for the London Olympics, but instead found a surprise opportunity at Keirle Park when he went to Marlins training one day, bright-eyed and naive, inquiring about rugby.

Within months he was thrust into Manly's first grade side in the Shute Shield, before being scouted for the ACT Brumbies academy. He was eventually signed by the Melbourne Rebels for the 2012 season on a $40,000 extended playing squad contract.

Like any player, the Xavier College product would have been happy just to train full-time with the likes of Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor. Instead, he found himself making his debut in the Rebels' starting side against the Bulls. Eight Super Rugby matches later, and the likeable lock is on the verge of making a shock debut for the Wallabies.

''I've almost been playing rugby for three-and-a-half years now,'' Neville says. ''And if the baptism of my rugby career so far continues - being thrown in the deep end - I'll probably find myself up against the All Blacks. But I don't expect that to happen this year.''

But with an injury list that includes star locks James Horwill and Dan Vickerman, it's becoming more likely that Neville's baptism of fire will continue. Not bad for a young talent, whose main goal this season was to help Manly to the Shute Shield title.

''Three years ago, I just wanted to play rugby and have fun,'' he said. ''I went down to Keirle Park in Manly and asked if I could start playing with them. I just felt like doing it that winter to change it up from league. Some people had suggested that rugby might be more suited to me because of my height, so I thought I'd give it a try. I didn't really know many people down there but was friends with them all soon enough.

''And I guess, like anyone, you set your goals at that top, dream level - the stars, you know. And you just hope you reach the clouds. But I've gone a little bit past the clouds now.''

And how. Until that fateful day at Keirle Park, Neville was one of Australia's main prospects for rowing at the Olympics. He'd grown up rowing, won a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport and was being groomed to break Australia's single scull drought at the Games.

But as he watches the Australian team struggle in London, Neville has no second thoughts about giving up the oars.

''I started my rugby career about a week after my last rowing nationals,'' he said. ''I was in the AIS for a year, in a development program that was aimed at getting single scullers into London. It was meant to be a two-year thing, but various funding cuts meant that our program was going to get canned. So I went back to my club Mosman, and that's where you start footing all your own bills again and things started getting a little bit tough.''

One match payment for the Wallabies would have been enough for Neville to continue rowing for another four or five years.

''My first year was definitely smashing beers after the games - that wasn't all that long ago,'' Neville says with a laugh.

''And then the next year, I went straight into first grade when Manly took a bit of a leap of faith in me.''

You get a feeling someone is looking over him. Most likely, it is his late father, Chris. ''Dad is not around any more but my mum is pretty proud - I try not to get into all that gushy stuff,'' he says. ''Dad was definitely keen on his sports and a big sports fan, and I know he'd be pretty happy to see me doing this sort of thing. If I got to play for the Wallabies one day, I know he'd be pretty proud of that.''

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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