Tears flow for Roos debutant Chambers

At first, Will Chambers thought he had missed out on a Kangaroos debut in Friday night’s trans-Tasman Test in Brisbane.

But the tears flowed after stirring Melbourne football manager Frank Ponissi finally let him know.

And they didn’t stop after the man he replaced – Justin Hodges – was one of the first to send a message of support.

Chambers admitted he was kicking cans as Ponissi revealed the Storm players who had earned representative honours after Saturday night’s NRL loss to Manly.

“He named the Samoan and Tongan boys, City-Country and the New Zealand boys then named all the Australia boys,” Chambers told AAP.

“As he named the Australian team I just thought ‘oh well, I missed out’.

“But right at the end he said ‘and player number 800 to represent Australia, Will Chambers’.

“He had left me dead last as a sort of joke.

“I then got a bit emotional, I didn’t know what to say.

“It is something I will always remember.”

Almost as unforgettable was Hodges’ response.

Hodges’ 13-Test career was over over after he was overlooked for Chambers by Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens and the five Test selectors.

The veteran centre had announced on the weekend that he would retire from representative football at season’s end – and Australia play just one Test in 2015.

Chambers was uncomfortable talking about Hodges after realising he had slotted into the veteran’s Test centre position.

But he had no problem revealing Hodges’ gallant response.

“He sent me a message saying ‘congrats’,” Chambers said.

“Hodgo is a good mate. He has supported me through the tough times, coming into Origin (last year) and all that.

“I always wanted to play like him.”

Chambers said they bonded when he made his Queensland debut in the 2014 Origin III, replacing the injured Brent Tate on the wing.

“He helped me out before the biggest game of my career and he was supportive and helped me so much,” he said.

Kangaroos fullback and Chambers’ Melbourne teammate Billy Slater was not surprised by Hodges’ reaction.

“He was probably a bit unlucky to miss out but to congratulate the person who has replaced you in the team says a lot about the bloke,” Slater said.

Chambers took the long way to his first Kangaroos nod via a three-year rugby union stint at Queensland Reds and Ireland’s Munster (2010-12).

“It’s been a good journey,” he said.

“I learned a lot in rugby. It probably made me a better footballer.”

Test captain Cameron Smith was not surprised Chambers had emerged as one of four debutants in his 20-strong squad.

“He probably felt a little bit of pressure from himself to make this team,” he said.

“But this year he has been on fire.”

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