GROWNG up Marcus Christensen, like most rugby-mad kids, used to dream about being a Wallaby.
On Tuesday, the now 27-year-old lock and Wanderers teammate Ignacio Battilana got to experience first-hand what it is like to be one – albeit for an hour.
The Two Blues first-graders were at No.2 Sportsground on Monday watching the Wallabies train when asked if they could assist in a scrum session the following day.
With regular locks Rob Simmons and Adam Coleman on restricted duties and the ACT Brumbies contingent yet to arrive in camp, the Wallabies were short.
It wasn’t a case of standing on a scrum machine to add weight and filling in if needed. This was a live scrum session. Full-on.
After a series of warm-up drills, Christensen and Battilana alternated packing in at left lock.
“It was crazy. Awesome,” Christensen said. “At first I was behind Tom Robinson and Stephen Moore was hooker. Then Sekope Kefu and Tatafu Polota-Nau came in. Kane Douglas was the other lock, Michael Hooper was on one side and Ned Hannigan the other breakaway. The pressure coming through the scrum was immense. One drill was 60-second scrums. Each team would take a turn at trying to force the other back. Then you would reset and go again. My legs were jelly at the end.”
Battilana, an Agentinian in his fourth season in Newcastle, agreed it was “definitely the hardest scrum session I have done” .
“It will be the closest I get to playing test rugby,” he said.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and scrum guru Mario Ledesma took the session.
“In a lot of ways, it was similar to how we train but they hone in on the finer details a lot more,” Christensen said. “We did everything with the forwards then they threw us in the scrums. Mario and Cheika, the players ... everyone was unreal. Brad Thorn is not on the coaching staff but is in camp with them and also helped us a lot.”
Battilana, 29, met countryman Ledesma at a NSW Waratahs game in Sydney earlier this month.
“It was good to chat to him again, he is a very technical man,” Battilana said.
The training session was followed by a coaching clinic for children.
“I had a couple of kids ask for autographs, but I had to tell them we weren’t Wallabies,” Christensen said.
Christensen, who has played in Belgium, Spain and France, returned to Wanderers in June after playing the first half of the season for Parramatta in the Shute Shield.
He has been selected in the Australian Stockman invitational side to tour New Zealand, Chile and Argentina in October.
The side is comprised of country players from the Shute Shield and Brisbane competition.