SHOALHAVEN first grade captain Mitch Hardy had a debut to remember after receiving his first call up for the NSW Country Cockatoos at Terrigal last weekend.
Hardy and Shoals teammate James Smith were both a part of the Cockatoos team that defeated the NSW Subbies 20-10 to retain the Ross Maher Cup.
Interestingly, Hardy has seen the game from the other side of the fence, having represented Subbies during his time playing in Sydney, but was stoked to get the chance to play for Country for the first time.
Hardy’s long-time dream of playing for the Cockatoos came to fruition when he was brought on as a replacement mid-way through the second half.
Unfortunately he had little time to let the milestone set in, before he ticked another thing off the bucket list.
Only about two minutes had passed before Hardy unexpectedly found himself back on the sideline after his enthusiasm got the better of him.
“Basically I came into the ruck and one of their second-rowers, who was probably about six foot nine, obviously didn’t like something about what I did, because he came in with an upper-cut,” Hardy explained.
“There was a bit of a fight and we both got 10 minutes in the sin bin.
“I did get back on for the last five minutes, but I actually spent more time in the sin bin than I did on the field.”
Clearly able to see the funny side of the situation, Hardy said he loved every minute of his time on the field…all eight of them.
As a former Subbies player, Hardy said he copped a fair bit of shtick from his opponents and even some of their coaching staff, but had the last laugh when the Cockatoos won.
“It was all in good fun and I guess it would’ve been even better if I’d spent more time on the field,” he laughed.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play for the Cockatoos for a long time and it still counts.
“Fingers crossed I get another chance in one of the next games.”
Even though he’s only been there for about for years, James Smith is somewhat of a veteran in the Cockatoos lineup and was happy to be back in there again.
“There were a lot of new faces, which is the way it goes with rep teams,” Smith said.
“There’s not many left from when I first played, so I think we’re still ironing out a few creases, but I was pretty happy with it.
“It’s always good if you can get one over the city slickers.”
Smith said it was good to see Hardy make his debut.
“He’s played his first game for the Cockatoos and got his first yellow card, so he can tick both those boxes now,” he said.
Smith is unavailable for the Cockatoos game against the Australian under 20s at Chatswood this weekend, but is hoping Hardy will get another chance.