A waterboy in last year’s Super Rugby final, robust Queensland winger Dom Shipperley can swoop on a Wallabies jersey with another match to celebrate against the Crusaders on Sunday.
With the rematch of last year’s title decider set to hold Test match intensity, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will be in Christchurch to run his rule over the fast-improving Shipperley, as well as other Reds.
Deans has identified the robust 21-year-old, who’s form has seen one-Test flyer Rod Davies dropped to the Queensland bench, as a wing candidate for next month’s internationals against Scotland and Wales.
With incumbents Drew Mitchell and Lachie Turner sidelined for the season, Shipperley, Reds fullback Luke Morahan, young NSW three-quarter Tom Kingston and Brumbies league convert Joseph Tomane are fighting for selection.
Marking up against All Blacks winger Zac Guildford in front of a packed Rugby League Park gives him an audition like no other but Test selection was never on his own radar in 2012.
“The injuries (to Mitchell and Turner) have opened the door to young guys like myself,” Shipperley told AAP.
“I set out the year and just wanted to be a regular for the Reds and I’ve pretty much achieved that in the first half of the season.
“Anything else will be a bonus and I’ll be very, very happy.”
Things have moved very quickly for Shipperley since he was released by the Australian U20s 12 months ago due to a Reds wing injury crisis.
He played the last seven matches of the home and away season, highlighted by a last-minute match-winning try against the Western Force, but ran the water and team messages when Davies and Digby Ioane returned for the play-offs.
He was a match-winner again this year with a 70m last-gasp try in round one against the Waratahs and he’s gone on to be one of two Reds, along with Will Genia, to have played every minute of every match.
“If you would have picked the team before the start of the season I wouldn’t have been in it but it’s just good that if you’re in good form and play well you’ll be rewarded,” he said.
With skipper James Horwill, Genia, Scott Higginbotham and fellow winger Ioane the only certain Reds Test selections, Deans will be closely inspecting the form of Rob Simmons, James Slipper, James Hanson, Ben Lucas, Mike Harris and Anthony Faingaa in the grand final rematch.
The Crusaders pack has been in destructive form for their past three wins, and will again like their prospects of dominating the Queensland scrum, while Richie McCaw will add back-row thrust off the bench in the last half-hour.
The home side’s backline has also been purring with youngster Tom Taylor impressing at five-eighth and Dan Carter striking up a lethal combination with Robbie Fruean in the centres.
The gripping 2011 decider, won 18-13 by the Reds featured a vicious breakdown battle and with Kiwi referee Bryce Lawrence again in control the tackle area will be key.