Powell thought Wallabies call-up ‘a joke’

So out of the blue was Joe Powell’s Wallabies call-up, he thought it was an elaborate prank.

The Brumbies’ back-up halfback even asked 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 only played seven Super Rugby matches in two years, and all from the bench.

So obscure was his selection that even the Wallabies’ official Twitter account called him “Joel” Powell in a congratulatory post that was later deleted.

“I didn’t think I had any chance. I did not expect it one bit,” he 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 met or even had a conversation with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, other than a pre-match chat with the team at a trial match against the NSW Waratahs.

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 last year while working as a carpenter’s apprentice, called in to replace injured Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White.

He played three matches in 2015 and four in a row this season, but has never started.

It’s a story not too dissimilar 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.

He replaced George Gregan in the line-up, but then retired from international rugby.

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