LEWIE Catt was fast asleep yesterday morning when his phone started buzzing at 4am.
It was a text message from former Newcastle representative teammate Corey Te Koeti telling him the news he had been dreaming of through 18 months of hard work.
Te Koeti had read on the Newcastle Herald website that Catt was the only Hunter player in the preliminary Combined Country squad to play the British and Irish Lions at Hunter Stadium on June 11.
“I found out at 4am when the article went up online,” Catt said. “I got a lovely message from a mate who was on dogwatch at 4am. I was really excited, jumped up and sent a few messages around. It was great.”
The Wanderers centre was one of 43 NSW and Queensland country origin players named in the initial squad yesterday. The list, which includes 18 Super Rugby players and five former Wallabies, will be cut to 23 on Friday. The team go into camp on June 6.
With many Super Rugby players expected to be ruled unavailable in the lead-up to the game by their franchises or through injury, Catt appears an excellent chance of making the final team.
And the 25-year-old is daring to dream.
“It is the biggest thing every 12 years in country rugby and I’m just thankful it’s at the right time for me,” he said.
“I’ve hit my straps and am producing good footy. I’m fit, I’ve had a good pre-season and rep season with [Newcastle coach] Dan Beckett as well.
“Everything has just fallen into place. There’s been no shortage of hard work put into it, though.”
The Lions game had been a source of motivation through 18 months of toil and focus.
“It has been in the back of my mind since I made Country last year and thought to myself, ‘Hey, I might actually get a shot at this,”‘ he said.
“I have been working towards it and I’ve made a few sacrifices with work, putting hours on hold and my whole social life as well. It’s a bit monotonous just getting up, working, training, sleeping.
“That’s what it’s been like for the past 18 months, but this is what I’ve been training for.”
Catt was one of seven NSW Country players to make the first line-up, which included seven from Queensland Country, seven from Sydney and four from Brisbane club rugby.
He was surprised more Hunter players did not make the cut given Newcastle won their sixth straight NSW Country championship this year.
Among the 18 Super Rugby players are former Wallabies Greg Holmes (13 Tests), Ben Daley (3), Nic Henderson (3), Dan Palmer (1) and Beau Robinson (1), although doubt hangs over their participation.
“We are aware that some of the [Super Rugby] guys may ultimately not be available,” Combined Country coach Cam Blades said.
Tickets to the match are on sale at proticket南京夜网.au.
Full squad in Details, Page 57