Joe Powell’s Wallabies call-up was so out of the blue that he thought it was a prank.
The Brumbies’ back-up halfback even asked someone to read the email to check it was for real.
“I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want to seem like I was an idiot,” the 22-year-old said.
But once coach Stephen Larkham confirmed his place in the 39-man training squad for the three-Test series against England, Powell couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
The Canberran has played only seven Super Rugby matches in two years, and all from the bench.
His racked up just 50 minutes in four appearances this season, having only recently overtaken Michael Dowsett as the club’s No.2 scrum-half.
So obscure was his selection that even the Wallabies’ official Twitter account called him “Joel Powell” in a – since deleted – congratulatory post.
“I didn’t think I had any chance. I did not expect it one bit,” Powell said.
“Obviously, it was a goal of mine, but I didn’t really think it would come at all and, considering I haven’t been playing much this year, to have it come so early was really unexpected.”
Powell has never even had a conversation with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, nor has he met many other Wallabies except the nine other Brumbies in the squad.
Cheika didn’t even directly consult Larkham about his inclusion.
“Sometimes, you go with a bit of a gut feel,” he said.
“I know that he hasn’t had a lot of minutes, but the minutes he’s played he’s looked really good.
“I like what he’s given around the field on pace and his attention to the ruck.
“He’s always there and his delivery’s good. It’s sharp and I just felt I would like to give an opportunity to someone like that.”
Powell received his chance at the Brumbies in 2015 while working as a carpenter’s apprentice, and came in to replace injured Wallabies scrum-half Nic White.
He played three matches in 2015 and four in a row this season, but has never started.
It’s a similar story to that of Steve Merrick, who played only three games for NSW before being promoted to the Wallabies for two Tests against the All Blacks in 1995.
He replaced George Gregan in the line-up, but then retired from international rugby.