Wellington – Rhys Patchell expected to watch Wales’s second Test against the All Blacks on television in Cardiff – instead he’ll be facing the world champions’ fearsome haka after an exhausting dash across the globe.
The 23-year-old had resigned himself to missing out on the tour before a series of injuries saw him called into Warren Gatland’s squad.
Patchell said he was about to start a round of golf last Saturday when he received a call telling him to drop everything and get to New Zealand.
After rushing to the airport, he touched down in Hamilton on Monday and found himself playing for Wales the next day on the wrong end of a 40-7 drubbing from the Chiefs.
Patchell’s week became more surreal when he found himself named as the Wales starting fullback for the second Test in Wellington after Liam Williams, who wore the No 15 shirt in the first Test, was moved to the right wing to replace the injured George North.
Patchell, whose only two previous caps came during a 2013 tour to Japan, admitted his head was still spinning.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind few days but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he told reporters, adding: “I tried to stay awake for as long as I could so I didn’t get any jetlag.”
He is likely to face a torrid time against the All Blacks, with his opposite number Israel Dagg set to test his ability under the high ball.
But Patchell said he was thrilled to be back playing for Wales again after a long absence and relishing the challenge against the All Blacks.
“A lot of people wait a lot longer than I have for an international call up,” he said.
“For some people it doesn’t come, so I’m fortunate that it has come around.”
15 Israel Dagg; 14 Ben Smith, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Waisake
Naholo; 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6
Jerome Kaino; 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Sam Whitelock; 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles,
1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19
Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Seta
15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11
Hallam Amos, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton
(captain), 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Samson Lee, 2
Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Substitutes: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Bradley
Davies, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Scott