Jeremy Thrush reckons his false start proved to be a blessing.
The 28-year-old Wellingtonian became All Black No 1120 in Christchurch on Saturday night when he trotted on to AMI Stadium in the 68th minute.
It was a test debut that seemed as though it would never arrive after Thrush sat on the bench through the full 80 minutes of the first test at Eden Park.
"Well, mum and dad live about two hours out of Auckland and my sister lives in Auckland, so they were there and my brother and his wife had come over from Melbourne," Thrush laughed yesterday. "So when I didn't get on dad just said, 'shit we're going to have to get to Christchurch now.'"
Of course, their son didn't hesitate to shout their air tickets south and proud parents Ian and Sally Thrush were on hand to see their boy achieve his boyhood dream.
And while his brother and sister couldn't make the second installment, they were still a big part of the most memorable two-weeks of their sibling's life.
"Last week was a good test run. I wasn't really sure what it was all about. It was a close game and I didn't get on, but I was still proud to wear the jersey," Thrush said.
"I got to keep the first one. It was a bit confusing, I didn't know whether to take it off and hand it back. I'll probably give that one to mum and dad or my club maybe, I'm not sure, but I'm keeping the second one. I'll probably hang it on the wall or something."
Whatever the case, there is little doubt which of the two No 19s he's received means the most.
"I just wanted to get on the field and get that test cap and to do that last night, looking back it was a pretty special game," he said.
"To say you made your debut and to be part of such a proud history... it was pretty awesome. To make my debut in the 500th test for the All Blacks was pretty special and to do it in Reado's [Kieran Read's] fiftieth too, that was a pretty nice way to celebrate the occasion."
In fact, Read provided a fitting reminder of just how hard Thrush has worked to earn his first test cap. The pair were teammates in the New Zealand under 19s world championship winning team in 2004, with Thrush named IRB world under 19 player of the year.
But while Read quickly graduated to the All Blacks, Thrush has endured all the ups and downs of professional rugby.
Born in Auckland, but raised in Canada before making his mark for the Hutt Valley High School first XV, he went tantalizingly close to the All Blacks after a barnstorming NPC for the Wellington Lions in 2008, but had to wait five years for his first cap.
Thrush became the third All Black from the Hutt Old Boys Marist club since it was formed in 1992 after halfback PiriWeepu and wing Hosea Gear.
"I haven't really had time to reflect, but the amount of people who have get in touch from Wellington and family and friends, Hutt Old Boys, it's just been awesome," he said. "It's been a journey to get here, but the ups and downs that's all part of it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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