TOM Hooper was enjoying his off-season and having a couple of beers when he took a phone call that led to the biggest moment of his rugby career.
It was a phone call asking him to line up for an Australian XV outfit against Argentina. Not surprisingly the talented lock jumped at the chance to take on the Pumas.
The former Saint Stanislaus' College star quickly resumed training to prepare for the match in Sydney, one used as a warm up for the Rugby Championship.
"I was sort of ready to clock off for the year, I was not expecting to play in that game whatsoever. I was out having a beer or two with one of my mates when I got the call from our Brumbies manager who let me know," Hooper said.
"So I had to get back into training and make sure I was game fit to play. Even though I was off the bench, I had an inkling it was going to be a lot more fast and physical than anything I'd played."
Though the match in Sydney did not feature full strength Australian or Argentinean line-ups, there was still a host of talent in both squads.
That Hooper, who was playing with the Australian Schoolboys 12 months earlier, was asked to play speaks volumes for his potential.
"For Argentina, it was their national team, they were missing 13 players who were their European players coming back from France and Italy ... but they still had Tomas Cubelli and [Emiliano] Boffelli, like some of their best players, it was a good experience to verse them," he said.
"For us it was basically the reserve members of the Wallabies squad, they made up most of the starting 15 and some of the bench players, and then most of the bench were aspiring Super Rugby players or guys on contract that don't necessarily have a wealth of Super Rugby experience.
"There was one guy from Melbourne, myself and another Brumbies player and then five guys from Waratahs. It was good experience for us bench guys to get 20 minutes or so."
In the end the Pumas won the match 19-15, but for Hooper it about was the experience of playing in such an environment rather than the result.
He found it a big step up from any previous representative games he'd played or the club matches he took part in for the Tuggeranong Vikings in 2020.
"They definitely had some big hitters and it was so much faster than any game I've ever played. They always say schoolboy rugby is the quickest rugby you'll ever play, but the Australian Schools match against New Zealand compared to that match, yeah, it wasn't even close," he said.
"It wasn't even in the ball park, I only played 20 minutes but I was stuffed, I was like walking around on my haunches.
"It has made me hungry but also helped a bit with self confidence that I could match it with those guys. Obviously I was coming up against some their reserve players by the time I got onto the field, but just the fact I could match it with their squad members at my age gave me a bit of confidence.
"It was a humbling experience too because it highlighted the areas I need to go back and work on as far as bettering myself goes, so when I do come up against the real thing in the future hopefully, I'm ready for it."