Young Western Force flanker Jackson Pugh stunned by Australia ‘A’ selection after staring for Palmyra

Headshot of Nick Taylor
Nick TaylorThe West Australian
Western Force’s Jackson Pugh has been called up to play for Australia A.
Camera IconWestern Force’s Jackson Pugh has been called up to play for Australia A. Credit: James Worsfold/Getty Images

Twelve months ago Jackson Pugh was playing for Palmyra in the local premier grade rugby competition.

Next month, after just six Super Rugby Pacific appearances, the Western Force back-rower will be pulling on an Australian jumper.

Pugh one of six Force players selected for Australia ‘A’ to play in the Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji, was stunned when coach Jason Gilmore came calling.

The 22-year-old was shopping on Monday and was so shocked he asked Gilmore if he had the right player.

He blocked the supermarket aisle while he took the call, rang his mum with the news and then wandered around with a “madman” grin on his face.

“It’s pretty unreal,” said Pugh who played for the 2018 Australian Schools and under-18s side on their tour of Ireland and Scotland. “I wasn’t expecting it but I’m pretty grateful. I was at the shops doing some food shopping when Gilly gave me a call.

“I said ‘are you sure? I’ve only played a few games and some of those were injury cover’.

“He said ‘yeah yeah (Wallabies coach) Dave Rennie liked what he saw’.

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 21: Jackson Pugh of the Force charges forward during the round 14 Super Rugby Pacific match between the Chiefs and the Western Force at FMG Stadium Waikato on May 21, 2022 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Camera IconJackson Pugh’s rise has been quick. Credit: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

“I was blocking up the aisle and then I phoned mum who was pretty chuffed.

“I had a big, big smile on my face walking through the shops.

“Other people must have thought I was some kind of madman.”

Force rugby manager Matt Hodgson said Pugh’s selection for Australia ‘A’ would improve his game and showed the club’s pathway was working.

“It’s pretty exciting for him and something we as West Australians should be proud of,” Hodgson said.

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