SHAWN Ingle, like most kids growing up in rugby-mad South Africa, longed to play for the Springboks.
An on-the-ball breakaway, Ingle, 21, came through the Lions junior system in Johannesburg.
"I played at school and did a bit of rep stuff with the Lions, but nothing too flashy," the Hunter Wildfires back-rower said. "I loved my rugby but never took it super seriously. I think everyone who plays rugby in South Africa grows up wanting to be a Springbok. It's pretty complicated back there. They have three tiers of provincial rugby and I was in the third tier."
Nowadays, Ingle spends most of his time in the University of Newcastle library studying a masters degree in engineering.
And while the chances of living out his childhood dreams appear remote, the Wildfires plan to adopt a little bit of Springbok rugby against Manly at Manly Oval on Saturday.
"We are at our best when we bring physicality to the game," Ingle said. "When we slow down the opposition ball and play for territory, we have been really good. That is a big part of the game plan, to be up front and physical."
Ingle hast started in the past two games - losses to Eastwood 46-11 and Sydney Uni 59-10 - since arriving from Melbourne and completing 14 days self isolation.
"When I made the decision to come up here, Melbourne was still up and running," he said. "It wasn't easy, but I thought I would jump at the opportunity to play Shute Shield. I had heard a bit about it and was really excited to test myself at the next level."
Ingle moved to Melbourne in 2017 to attend university. He was selected in the Melbourne Rebels under-19s in his first season and has been one of the premier back-rowers in the first grade competition.
"I was coming mainly for the degree and ended up really, really liking the rugby the more I did it," he said. "I'd say the Melbourne competition is just under Shute Shield. I've only played two games but the pace of the game is faster and the skill level on a whole is better. In terms of physicality, Melbourne is pretty similar."
Ingle will be joined in the side by fellow Melburnian, Michael Moloney, in a rejigged starting side against Manly.
Steve Lamont comes in at hooker for his first start and Piers Morrell has been promoted at blindside. Apart from Moloney, in the backs Angus Brown makes his Shute Shield debut at inside centre and Chad Northcott returns at fullback.
Meanwhile, the NSW Waratahs, featuring Newcastle duo Harry Johnson-Holmes and Andrew Tuala, will be out for revenge when they host Queensland at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
Wildfires: 1 Dave Puchert, 2 Steve Lamont, 3 Nick Dobson, 4 Adam Edwards (c), 5 Seva Rokobaro, 6 Piers Morrell, 7 Shawn Ingle, 8 Ben Ham, 9 Mahe Fangupo, 10 Michael Moloney, 11 Rob Buserau, 12 Angus Brown, 13 Hayden Cole, 14 Nimi Qio, 15 Chad Northcott, 16 Phiil Bradford, 17 Dave Waller, 18 Sitiveni Waqa, 19 Alec Corcoran, 20 Marlon Solofuti, 21 Charles Fielder, 22 Connor Mulhearn, 23 Daniel Davies
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Came over from Johburg to study a couple of yrears to go.
Played at school and did a bit of rep stuff with the Lions. But nothing to flashy.
Then I came over here to study. I ended up playing a bit of rugby down in Melbourne and really got into it.
I was coming mainly for the degree and ended up really, really liking the rugby the more I did it. That is why I'm pursuing it now.
Masters of Engineering. Just started - two years to go.
LEVEL IN MELBOURNE
I'd say it is just under Shute Shield. I've only played two games, I have limited experience but the pace of the game is faster and the skill level on a whole is better.
In terms of physicality, Melbourne is pretty similar. There are some really big boys, kiwis and polynesians.
HOW END UP IN NEWC -
I am represented by player agency, they told me looking for players.
I rang and said I was keen.
UNI ONLINE - contimnue with studies
I am at the library now. I'm all online which is ideal.
The masters is. I only started it this year but it is pretty full on.
HOW LONG AT LIBRARY
Probbly 30-40 hours. a week in the library.
I'm staying at the Commomwealth. It is pretty close which is ideal.
HEAVY STUFF - A lot of matchs and science but interesting stuff as well.
I think everyone who plays rugby in south africa grows up wanting to be a Springbok.
I loved my rugby but never took it super seriously. I made the Lions under-19 side in the last two years of school. It pretty complicated back there. They have three tiers of provincial rugby and I was in the third tier.
We were not one of the traditional rugby schoold.
I had never been to Aust an didn't know much about it other thn really good reviews from people who I had asked. It seemed like a pretty good fit. The uni course was also a huge drawcard.
PLAY NRC WITH RISING
I haven't made the NRC squad. I ahve been involved in pre-selection stuff and played a game against Japan A. I played off the bench.
ENJOYING IT - EASY DECISIOn given what going on in Melbourne
When I made the decision, Melbourne was still up and running.
It wasn't super easy, but I thought I would jump at the opportunity to play Shute Shield. I had heard a bit about and was really excited to test myself at the next level. That was the main thing. The experience has been pretty amazing.
Everyone in Newcastle has been great and the rugby is pretty good too.
That is definitely an option.
WHAT LEARNED - Eastwood then Sdydney, what take from they
They were polar opposite on where we performed. When we hit our straps and
bring the physicality to the game, that is a big par t of the game plan to be up front and physical. Wgen we execute on that and slow down the oppositoion ball and play for territory we have been really good.
SOUTH AFRICAN STYLE
A little bit.
HARDLY TOUCHED BALL
It is always very dangerous when you don't have much of the ball, agaisnt a good attacking side like Sydney Uni.
HOW FOUND NEWY - self isolation
I was on a uni break, but I always have heaps of little projects I am doing.
Since i have been out, it has been so nice, the weather especially. For the middle of winter, this is ideal. I have been trying to get out surfing as much as possible.
I have pretty good mates already. The giuys are great. They have all come fro different clubs but everyone has banded together really well. There is a lot of good fella. It seems like the whole Newcastle set up is built around good blokes playing rugby.
DONE MUCH On MANLY - similar to Eastwood
GEORGE AND BURRILL
I don't know them too well. I played Rebels under-19s with him. He as a decent player. I have played against George, he is also pretty good and I am hoping they ad some value.
I came through form school - it was the year they didn't have a 20s comp. We played against the Canberra team and a couple of country side,
This is 4th year in Australia.