IT'S fair to say that Bathurst Bulldogs skipper Peter Fitzsimmons has just enjoyed one of the best few weeks of his life.
Fitzsimmons and partner Morgan recently welcomed their son Joey into the world on July 29, and just 11 days later the Bulldogs star heard the news that he'd earned selection into the NSW Country Cockatoos side to play in the upcoming Australian Rugby Championships.
It's Fitzsimmons' second selection in the state's top country rugby union side, following his debut campaign in 2018.
The news of the 'birth-and-berth' double for Fitzsimmons will be made all the greater by having Bulldogs teammate Joe Nash joining him for the upcoming Australian Championships.
Nash has continued his excellent run of recent form after making the Cockatoos team last year.
The Bulldogs pair will be joined by a strong Central West contingent of Mahe Fangupo, Charlie French (Forbes Platypi), Damien Michael (Cowra Eagles), Filisone Pauta (Dubbo Kangaroos), Dan Ryan (Parkes Boars) and Josh Tremain (Orange City).
While the country selection is certainly taking a back seat to a more special present, Fitzsimmons said it was wonderful news to hear.
"It was good to get the reward with so many players selected after four really good campaigns, which started at Warren where we lost the final to Illawarra," he said.
"We then won two in a row and lost the final this year, which wasn't the best, but it was still another really strong year for us so it's good to see NSW Country reward the effort and the quality of players that we have.
"It's been a while since we've had a group of Bulldogs, with Mobbsy [Justin Mobbs] pulling out with work commitments, but we've got Nashy and I selected. It's really good to be able to do this together."
The initial NSW Country squad was picked after the Country Championships and the final team was decided following a training day in Sydney last Saturday.
Central West has the biggest selection of players in the Cockatoos, with eight, while the team who ended their bid for a third successive Caldwell Cup title, Central Coast, earned five.
"It's a really awesome group. I had a great time at the camp," Fitzsimmons said.
"Everybody gelled, whether it was meeting new people or meeting back up with friends that you'd played with before, it's great to see that everyone was on the same page and ready to put in their best performance.
"We were playing for spots and it could have very easily been heated but everyone was on the same page. You want to perform but it's about developing good connections."
In the short term, attention for Fitzsimmons and Nash turns towards their upcoming Blowes Cup game for the Bulldogs against Orange City.
Bulldogs gave top spot on the table back to the Cowra Eagles following last round's loss to the Forbes Platypi and the team will be keen to turn things around in the run towards finals.
Fitzsimmons said the team will hopefully enjoy a much smoother run towards this weekend's contest compared to the last.
"It was a pretty disrupted week with us guys out and an injury early in the game so we just want to get back to what we had been doing and try to get a good win against Orange City," he said.
"That's not the easiest task. You can easily say that they haven't won a game but I think it's one of the best City sides that I've seen in a while and they're really putting in the work."
Kick-off at Ashwood Park this Saturday is 3.15pm.
Fitzsimmons and Nash head to the Australian Championships from September 28 to October 4.
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