The past week has been an absolute whirlwind for the Dubbo Kangaroos’ Pat Berryman.
The 19-year-old answered his phone after a colts training session last Tuesday, to hear NSW Waratahs development coach Pat McCutcheon on the other end congratulating him on making the NSW Country Eagles under 19s team.
He is now packing his bags to move to Sydney to immerse himself in the Eagles’ Under 19s Rugby Championship (URC) campaign.
“I was like ‘oh my god’,” he said of last Tuesday’s life-changing phone call.
“When I told my girlfriend she said ‘I can’t believe you really made it!’ And I was like ‘what do you mean by that?’
“And she said ‘well, you didn’t get much game time [for the Cockatoos]’ but obviously they saw something in me and they’ve got faith in me to go on and do better things.”
Berryman will again train under the guidance of NSW Country Cockatoos colts coach Matt Thompson, with continued support from the likes of Narromine product McCutcheon.
Berryman was the only country-based player selected in the side, and said the move to Sydney was a no-brainer.
He has already arranged to move in with some mates in Dee Why, with McCutcheon and the Waratahs to assist him in finding work.
He leaves Dubbo on Friday.
“I was always going to go to Sydney, it’s just happening earlier than we all expected,” Berryman said.
“Being out here in the country, you’re not exposed to that [professional environment] … being with smarter, quicker paced games, learning from those type of coaches and making those contacts.
“[Living in Sydney] I won’t have to worry about missing training [three times a week]. I’ve got to do it and go to Sydney to get the best out of this experience … it’s just too good an opportunity to pass up.
“Rugby can take you anywhere. I’m really looking forward to meeting people and just learning as much as I possibly can.”
It’s no doubt that attitude that helped Berryman earn selection in the first place, and he’s determined to make the most of it.
But it’s already clear he won’t forget where he has come from anytime soon.
“I’d just like to thank Dubbo Roos and Central West rugby for all the years,” he said.
“People like Scott Hatch from Bathurst, he tried so hard to get a Central West team happening this year and he managed it and if that hadn’t happened I probably wouldn’t be having this opportunity now.
“You’ve just got to thank all those people who committed to country rugby so we can get seen and set us these opportunities.”
The NSW teams will train at the David Phillips Sports Complex in Daceyville for three weeks in September before travelling to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
The URC replaces the Super Under 20s competition and will played from September 28 to October 5 at Tuggeranong in Canberra.
It’s hoped the new tournament will create a clearer pathway for players into the Junior Wallabies squad.