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Pat McCabe back in Wallabies starting side after overcoming horror injury run

Back in the fold: Pat McCabe will face New Zealand.

Back in the fold: Pat McCabe will face New Zealand. Photo: Getty Images

When Pat McCabe recalls the blow to his neck when playing for the Brumbies against the Force in March, he admits he was scared his career was over.

As McCabe said on Tuesday after being named in the starting Wallabies side to play the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, the pain was similar to the second time he broke his neck – during last year’s British and Irish Lions series.

Asked how he fought the nerves of playing in contact after that second break – the first having occurred on the Wallabies 2012 spring tour of Europe – McCabe said: “It’s obviously nervous. My real scare came against the Force … I had a similar pain to when I had broken it the second time. I got rushed to hospital and scanned.”

But McCabe, 26, not only recovered from a knock that, thankfully, was not as serious as first feared, he went on to play impressively for the Brumbies all year.

So impressively, he earned two Wallabies caps off the bench against France in the Brisbane and Melbourne Tests in June, before Tuesday’s step up to being selected on the wing for the Wallabies run-on XV for the Bledisloe Cup opener.

McCabe, who has not started for the Wallabies since they lost to France in November, 2012, looks back on his scare in March as a turning point.

“Getting through that big knock and realising that it was fine was a huge confidence booster,” he said.

“The games following were probably some of my best for the year.

“Getting over that real testing moment and coming out fine … it’s a long way from my mind now. You play your 16 games of Super Rugby and it gets pretty well tested week in, week out. It’s feeling good now and, touch wood, I won’t have any worries.”

However, McCabe, who is three quarters through studying for a law degree at the University of Southern Queensland, said there had been times when he feared his playing career would never reach the heights it has.

“There were a few times where I had scans where if the injury didn’t heal as [doctors] needed it to, it would have been the end," he said.

“There were a few nervous moments amongst that, but each of the times after the healing period, it recovered well. From that you just have to trust the medical advice.

“They were confident that it had healed well enough to get back out there. Here I am.”

The experience has also helped him appreciate opportunity, the latest being to play against the All Blacks for the fifth time of his career, and in a Wallabies back three with fellow winger Rob Horne and full-back Israel Folau – both from the Waratahs.

McCabe has played four games against the All Blacks, with one win, one draw and two losses. “You always come out – obviously exhausted, but thoroughly tested," he said. "Every aspect of your game gets challenged.”

Whatever the result, McCabe said he was grateful to be playing: “I’ve learnt to enjoy the highs, but you realise the lows are never too far away.

"You take those moments, take them with a grain of salt – enjoy them for what they are and enjoy the occasion.”

1 comment so far

  • Amazing. One of the best ball runners in the Brumbies stable can't get a start because of another Wests player, yet is selected in the Wallabies starting side. Glad Link can see Pat for what he is.

    Commenter
    Chin
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    August 13, 2014, 11:53AM

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    BRU 0vs HUR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
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    CHT 0vs Jagu 0 04:00FSS
    Sunw 0vs LIO 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
    CRU 0vs CHF 0 17:35AMI
    WAR 0vs RED 0 19:40AS
    FOR 0vs REB 0 21:50nib Stadium
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    King 0vs SHA 0 00:00NMBS
    STO 0vs BUL 0 02:05DHL Newlands
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    CRU 0vs BLU 0 17:35AMI
    BRU 0vs WAR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
    Sat, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 0vs LIO 0 15:15FMG Stadium Waikato
    HIG 0vs HUR 0 17:35FBS
    RED 0vs FOR 0 19:40SS
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    BUL 0vs REB 0 00:00Loftu
    CHT 0vs STO 0 02:05FSS
    SHA 0vs Jagu 0 04:10GpKP
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    Round 3
    Fri, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BLU 0vs HUR 0 17:35EP
    FOR 0vs BRU 0 22:05nib Stadium
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    HIG 0vs LIO 0 17:35FBS
    REB 0vs RED 0 19:40AAMI
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    King 0vs CHF 0 00:00NMBS
    STO 0vs SHA 0 02:05DHL Newlands
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    Fri, 18 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 0vs FOR 0 17:35Central Energy Trust Arena
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    BUL 0vs SHA 0 04:00Loftu
    Sunw 0vs REB 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
    CRU 0vs King 0 17:35AMI
    RED 0vs BLU 0 19:40SS
    Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
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    Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
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    REB 0vs HIG 0 19:40AAMI
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    BLU 0vs Jagu 0 17:35QBE Stadium
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    BLU 0vs SHA 0 17:35EP
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    HUR 0vs CHF 0 17:35WS
    FOR 0vs WAR 0 19:40nib Stadium
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    King 0vs LIO 0 01:05NMBS
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    RED 0vs CHT 0 19:40SS
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    Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
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    CHF 0vs HIG 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
    WAR 0vs CHT 0 19:40AS
    SHA 0vs HUR 0 23:00GpKP
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    Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
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    FOR 0vs BLU 0 19:40nib Stadium
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    Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
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    Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
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    BLU 0vs CRU 0 17:35EP
    BRU 0vs Sunw 0 19:40GIO Stadium
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    HUR 0vs BLU 0 17:35WS
    REB 0vs STO 0 19:40AAMI
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    Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
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    King 0vs HIG 0 03:10NMBS
    Jagu 0vs BUL 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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    Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
    BLU 0vs BRU 0 17:35EP
    RED 0vs CHF 0 19:40SS
    Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
    LIO 0vs King 0 03:00Emirates Airlines Park
    CRU 0vs REB 0 17:35AMI
    WAR 0vs HUR 0 19:40AS
    FOR 0vs STO 0 21:45nib Stadium
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    BUL 0vs Sunw 0 01:05Loftu
    SHA 0vs CHT 0 03:10GpKP
    Jagu 0vs HIG 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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    Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
    BLU 0vs WAR 0 17:35EP
    RED 0vs REB 0 19:40SS
    Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
    SHA 0vs Sunw 0 03:00GpKP
    CRU 0vs HUR 0 15:15AMI
    HIG 0vs CHF 0 17:35FBS
    BRU 0vs FOR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
    Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
    STO 0vs King 0 01:05DHL Newlands
    CHT 0vs BUL 0 03:10FSS
    Jagu 0vs LIO 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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    Round 18
    Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
    TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
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    TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
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    Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0 0
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    Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0 0
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