Ruaridh McConnochie is eyeing an appearance at this year's Rugby World Cup after featuring at the 2016 Olympic Games
Bristol (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Uncapped winger Ruaridh McConnochie is on the brink of a notable achievement following his shock inclusion in England’s squad for next month’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Bath flyer will join a select band of players to have appeared in both an Olympic Games and a World Cup having been a member of the Great Britain sevens squad that won a silver medal at the 2016 Games in Rio.
McConnochie, 27, found himself in the 31-man squad for this year’s tournament announced by coach Eddie Jones on Monday after just one season at the Recreation Ground.
But his pace and try-scoring ability impressed veteran boss Jones and means he follows in the footsteps of the likes of New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams, Fiji’s Leone Nakarawa and South Africa’s Francois Hougaard.
McConnochie could now make his England 15-a-side debut in a World Cup warm-up clash against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
“I went to the Olympics as a travelling reserve, but it’s still the same kind of excitement,” he said.
“It’s incredible. The World (Sevens) Series is handy in playing in front of those crowds and the excitement for those tournaments, but this is a new challenge for me.”
“Ten weeks ago, getting invited into camp was awesome and I have just tried to enjoy the moment as much as I can each week.
“The first thing he (Jones) said was to just be myself, and that’s what I have tried to do and not tried to be anyone else.
“I spoke to my parents and girlfriend (after selection). They’ve been supporting me since the start of the journey, and they were overwhelmed with it.
“Dad is quite an emotional bloke, so he loved it.”
- ‘Bizarre few weeks’ -
Lewis Ludlam made his senior England debut on Sunday having featured for the U20s side in 2015
There was a similar thrill for flanker Lewis Ludlam, one of three members of Jones’s squad for Japan who only made their international debuts during Sunday’s opening 33-19 warm-up victory over Wales at Twickenham.
The impressive back-row received his cap just three years after playing his first senior match for Northampton.
“It has been a bizarre few weeks, really,” said the 23-year-old Ludlam.
“I never really expected to be in camp for this long, and Sunday was a surreal experience for me.
“I haven’t caught up with all my good luck messages yet. The phone has been going off constantly and I am just getting around to replying to everyone.
“I think I was watching (the 2015 World Cup) in the pub, so it’s a surreal experience to be picked for this World Cup and be part of it,” he added.