Born in Townsville, raised in New Zealand, a couple of Super Rugby titles with the Waikato-based Chiefs and now on the verge of a Test debut for the Wallabies in Chicago.
It’s been some journey for 26-year-old Melbourne Rebels prop Toby Smith who has been named on the bench for the Wallabies against the United States at Soldier Field on Saturday (Sunday AEST).
“It’s really exciting … I definitely didn’t think I’d be debuting in Chicago of all places,” Smith told AAP.
Smith’s Kiwi parents returned to New Zealand when the prop was two and that’s where he was raised.
He won an Under 20s World Cup with New Zealand in 2008 before going on to join the Waikato-based Chiefs from 2010-2013 before linking with the Rebels in the hope of playing for Australia.
“I’ve loved my time in Melbourne with the Rebels. Credit to the coaching staff and the boys there because without them I wouldn’t have got this opportunity,” he said.
“To get this opportunity to play for Australia is something very special.”
The Wallabies have been training at the University of Notre Dame in the lead-up to their clash with the Eagles.
Smith hopes to stake a claim for a place in the Wallabies’ squad to face Fiji in their World Cup opener in Cardiff on September 23.
“There’s an opportunity there, but with it being my first game I’m just focussing purely on this week and putting in the best performance I can on the field and then further down the track will take care of itself,” he said.
The set-piece continues to be a big focus for the Wallabies in their preparations and Smith has enjoyed working under Argentinian scrum guru Mario Ledesma.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work with our different combinations and it’s coming along well,” Smith said.
“Mario has been great. He’s a got a lot experience and he’s hands on in the scrums.
“To have someone of his calibre helping me out has been really good for me.”
Cheika was delighted for Smith.
“Toby is an extremely humble guy, and a very popular member of the group,” said Cheika.
“He’s been training exceptionally well throughout our 2015 international campaign, and that along with his form during Super Rugby has earned him the right to become a Wallaby.”