Tweed player in Country call-up
By TANIA PHILLIPS
A NORMAL trip to training turned into a dash to the airport for Cronulla Sharks winger Luke Covell yesterday when the former Murwillumbah player was rushed into the Country team to take on City in Lismore on Friday night.
Covell, who grew up in Tumbulgum, comes in to replace the injured Timana Tahu (back) on the wing for the Country side.
Country also lost centre Matt Cooper (groin) and second rower Brent Kite (shoulder) replaced by Newcastle centre Matt Gidley and Parramatta prop Paul Stringer. Injuries also hit City, with halfback Matt Orford (hamstring) and centre Mark Gasnier (wrist), replaced by Bulldogs halfback Brent Sherwin and wing Hazem El-Masri. Penrith's Luke Lewis moves to centres.
Covell, one of the NRL's leading point-scorers this year, said he was "stoked" to have made the side.
Disappointed not to have been named in the original team announced on Sunday night, Covell said he had thought nothing more of it. He was en-route to team training yesterday when the phone rang.
"It was (Cronulla chief excutive) Steve Rogers," a still shell-shocked Covell told the Daily News as he prepared to board the plane.
"He said I was in the team and I had to head in to the Sydney Cricket Ground to meet the rest of the team.
"I was dumbfounded. I only had my normal training gear with me.
"My girlfriend had to pack my clothes and bring them to me."
A few short hours later he was on the plane heading to Lismore.
Covell, who moved from West Tigers to the Sharks this season, is fourth on the list of NRL point- scorers with 68 points including four tries and 26 goals. He sits seventh on the list of goal-kickers.
As well as being successful for his new club, the 23-year-old winger had set making the Country team as one of his major goals for the year. Another is to be part of Cronulla's first premiership.
He says yesterday's selection justifies his decision last month to turn down an offer to play for New Zealand in the recent Anzac Test. "This is no disrespect to them, but I have grown up always wanting to play Origin football and for Australia."
Covell said he didn't mind that he was a late selection for Country.
"It doesn't matter how it has happened, just that it has happened," he said. One of his first calls after hearing of his selection was to his mother Sandra in Tumbulgum. The family, and many of his friends, hope to get tickets to see him play.