New Ireland rugby league international Clark McAllister has admitted that he had a hard time believing it when he was picked to play for his country against Belgium last weekend.
McAllister, who plays rugby union for hometown club Banbridge RFC in Ulster, came into rugby league by chance.
“I played the season at Banbridge and then my old PE teacher from Banbridge High School Mark Parker asked me to go along to Portadown to play for their rugby league team,” he explained to his local newspaper, the Banbridge Leader.
“I decided to go down over the summer for a bit of fun and to get some fitness going before pre-season begun back at the club.”
He then found that things escalated quickly, and he was soon in the frame to play for Ireland‘s team of domestic players to take on Belgium in Bray, County Wicklow.
Nominated by the Portadown club to attend the trial sessions for the Ireland team, McAllister excelled.
The surprise of being picked nearly led to an embarrassing incident of bowel misfunction too.
“The funny thing was that I had only played rugby league twice before all of this,” he added.
“There were 50 players down to that first session and they said a lot of us would be disappointed because it was going to be so tough to pick a final squad.
“It was a long wait then until Tuesday evening when the squad was picked and once I had got that far, we learned the match-day squad would be cut down to 17 so I had to wait for that as well.
“We went down on Saturday to train and then the coach announced the starting team. When I heard my name I nearly dunged myself!”
The 23-year-old turned in a fine display for the Wolfhounds against the Belgians, scoring a try and making some impressive tackles.
He also now has bragging rights over one of his best buddies, who is striving to make a name in the 15-man code.
“I never dreamt of playing for Ireland at all,” McAllister added.
“One of my best friends, Jonny Murphy, plays at the Ulster Academy so I’ve had a good laugh with him telling him that I’ve got an Ireland cap before him.”