Clinton comes of age - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Clinton comes of age

By Laine Clark 24/04/2004 05:54:21 AM Comments (0)

At 183cm and 112kg, Australian prop Shane Webcke casts a big shadow.

But Penrith enforcer Joel Clinton believes he stepped out of it after a barnstorming Test rugby league debut against New Zealand at Newcastle.

Clinton, 22, was one of three Test debutants for Australia but hardly looked like a beginner when he combined with his idol and front row partner Webcke to set up a 37-10 win over the Kiwis at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

Clinton, running out for a long awaited international debut in front of almost 22,000 Australian faithful, almost made up for the disappointment of the 2003 Kangaroo tour of the UK when the hulking prop failed to get a Test nod.

But all that was a distant memory for the 197cm, 114kg bruiser.

"You can't explain the nervousness and feelings before a Test match, I would have loved to have got one overseas but I didn't, I put that behind me, trained harder and earned the respect of the coach and selectors," he said.

"They gave me a shot at it and I thought I played the best footy I ever played, hopefully I become a key player for them.

"Once you are in the team you don't want to pull out of it, you want to cement your spot in international football - this is a big step for me so hopefully I can keep enjoying it."

After admiring from afar as a junior footballer, Clinton finally got to live out a fantasy as he not only got picked to partner Webcke in the front row but also roomed with the Brisbane Broncos giant.

"I picked his brain every now and again, just the way he played tonight he killed it and I just followed in his footsteps and tried to do the same thing," he said.

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