Jon Tuxworth April 16, 2012
Canberra Raider David Shillington will start at prop for Australia in the Anzac Test against New Zealand on Friday night. Photo: Getty Images
Twelve months ago Canberra Raiders prop David Shillington was dealing with the devastation of relinquishing his Australian jersey through injury.
Yesterday, he was rewarded for his outstanding start to the season by being named as starting front-rower alongside Paul Gallen for Friday's Anzac Test against New Zealand in Auckland.
Having been chosen in the Kangaroos line-up last year, Shillington was forced to withdraw the next day after suffering a serious pectoral injury against Wests Tigers.
The 28-year-old was also forced to watch Queensland's seventh straight Origin series win from the stands, having been involved in the previous two series.
Now injury free, Shillington has carried the ball for well over 100 metres in four of the five full matches he has completed this season.
''It wasn't great last year, I had a battle just to be picked in the side, and then had to pull out the next day,'' Shillington said last night.
''The next day I couldn't lift my arm off the bench on the medical table, so there was no chance I'd be right to play the Test the next week, and I was devastated.
''It's going well for me at the moment so it's nice to get some rewards for hard work.''
Shillington said the fact Gallen had been named in the front row, despite playing most of his career at lock, should be used as motivation by other props in the competition.
In-form NSW bookends were thin on the ground last year, forcing Blues coach Ricky Stuart to pick Gallen in the front row with spectacular results, including a man-of-the-match performance in game two.
Raiders front-rower Tom Learoyd-Lahrs was last night named on Country's bench for the annual clash with City at Mudgee this Sunday. Canberra winger Blake Ferguson was also rewarded for a strong start to 2012 with his first Country jumper.
''I think they should find that motivating,'' Shillington said. ''Sheensy [Australia coach Tim Sheens] was looking for players to really push for that spot, and I think they'll be ready to move Gallen back to lock once someone puts their hand up.
''Whether it's [James] Tamou or when [Cowboys prop] Matt Scott comes back or someone else, there's definitely a spot there up for grabs.''
Boom Canberra forward Josh Papalii missed out on selection for the New Zealand side, but Shillington said it was inevitable the 19-year-old would eventually play at Test level.
''I wouldn't have been surprised if Joshy maybe got a bench spot for the Kiwi team, he's been playing some really good footy in patches for the Raiders,'' Shillington said.
''I just think it's a matter of time before he makes that New Zealand side, he only debuted [in the NRL] last year and has only played a handful of games  really.''
Raiders forward Bronson Harrison, who has played 13 Tests for the Kiwis, was unavailable due an ankle injury.
Rabittoh David Taylor will earn a first Test jumper, making the most of incumbent Tony Williams's suspension to start in the second row.
''The Kiwis are going to start with a very big, strong side and I think we've got to answer that and make their edges worry a little bit with the size,'' Sheens said.
''I believe that big men like him [Taylor] are sometimes better starting - warm up and start, rather than warm up, get cold on the bench.''