From Wests to the Wallabies
Jesse Mogg earned selection in the Wallabies' squad yesterday. Photo: Melissa Adams
From club rugby to the international stage, Jesse Mogg is still pinching himself after he capped a whirlwind eight months by becoming a bolter in the Wallabies squad last night.
The ACT Brumbies fullback started the season clinging to his Super Rugby dream.
This time last year Mogg was playing in Canberra's first grade competition for Wests and contemplated giving up on hopes of landing a professional contract.
But in 12 games for the Brumbies he has rocketed through the ranks on his rapid rise to a possibly Test jersey in the coming weeks.
Mogg was one of eight Brumbies rewarded for the club's resurgent Super Rugby form when Wallabies coach Robbie Deans named them in a 39-man Wallabies squad.
The rookie will be joined by fellow uncapped internationals Joseph Tomane, Dan Palmer, Nic White and Michael Hooper as well as established Wallabies Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and Pat McCabe.
''[Brumbies coach Jake White] always says how good it is that eight months ago I was playing park football and now I'm playing Super Rugby,'' Mogg said.
''I realise I've been given a lucky chance and I'm loving it.
''This is another step for me … it hasn't sunk in yet but I'm sure once I get to the camp it will hit me then.
''I'm excited inside, but I just like keeping it low key and this has definitely come sooner than I thought, I'm stoked.''
Deans has named 14 Test rookies in his squad for the Tests against Scotland and Wales.
An injury to Kurtley Beale could give Mogg a dream birthday present of a possible debut against Scotland in Newcastle on June 4 just three days before he turns 23.
The Brumbies contingent will visit Sydney on Wednesday for Wallabies duties before travelling to Melbourne to take on the Rebels on Friday night.
They will then join the Wallabies squad on Saturday.
The Brumbies are at the top of the Australian conference with coach Jake White guiding the team unexpectedly into finals contention.
They started the year with just three Wallabies players - Moore, Alexander and McCabe - but team success is set to almost triple their international experience.
Tomane has been superb after switching to rugby union after a stint in the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans and Melbourne Storm.
Scrumhalf Nic White has been one of the Brumbies' most consistent performers and will fight Nick Phipps to be Will Genia's back-up.
Palmer is regarded as one of the most technically sound tight-head props in the competition while 20-year-old Hooper has been outstanding at openside flanker.
Mogg's rise has been sensational.
After spending two years in the Brumbies' Academy squad, Mogg couldn't force his way on to the full-time roster. White had filled his 30-man squad when he spotted Mogg playing for Wests. But the Brumbies coach offered him an extended player squad deal which meant he could only be selected in the game-day squad if a full-time player was injured.
McCabe's recovery from a shoulder reconstruction gave Mogg the opportunity he needed and he hasn't missed a game this year. He has also signed an upgraded contract for next year.
One of Jake White's priorities when he arrived in the capital was to turn his young talent into Wallabies and Mogg has been on of the main beneficiaries. The 22-year-old admits his game is still a work in progress, but he's determined to use his Wallabies experience to improve.
''Everyone wants to play in that first game and get your foot in the door,'' Mogg said. ''Wallabies definitely wasn't in my goals for this year, it has come around quick.
''I'm just trying to gain as much experience as I can and if I happen to get a game I'll be very happy.
''I thought I might get to Wallabies in a couple of years and Super Rugby was a bit of shock to start with, but I feel good now.''
WALLABIES SQUAD (ACT Brumbies in bold)
Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Anthony Faingaa, Saia Faingaa, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Michael Harris, Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, Digby Ioane, Sekope Kepu, Salesi Ma'afu, Pat McCabe, Ben McCalman, Jesse Mogg, Stephen Moore, Luke Morahan, Cadeyrn Neville, Dan Palmer, Wycliff Palu, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Hugh Pyle, Benn Robinson, Nathan Sharpe, Dominic Shipperley, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Sitaleki Timani, Joseph Tomane, Cooper Vuna, Nic White.
June 5: Wallabies v Scotland in Newcastle
June 9: Wallabies v Wales in Brisbane
June 16: Wallabies v Wales in Melbourne
June 23: Wallabies v Wales in Sydney