Around the Fringes – Pat McCutcheon
Photo: SPA Images
You get the impression that the modern world of social networking isn’t to Pat McCutcheon’s taste. At a time when a growing number of players use mediums such as Twitter to update us with their options for dinner or to proffer movie reviews, the burly flanker simply rolls his eyes in bewilderment. “Going to Nando’s or watching movies? I’d rather take my bike out for a ride.”
The bike in question – a Harley Davidson 48 Sportster with the motto ‘Loud Exhausts Save Lives!’ – can often be seen ferrying McCutcheon to and from the training paddock and if he’s not on the bike, he’s just as comfortable behind the wheel of a ute. He favours an uncomplicated, outdoor lifestyle and it all harks back to his rural upbringing in the small country town of Narromine, just west of Dubbo where his parents live on a farm and also run an earth moving business.
Although he’s currently studying for a post-rugby career as a quantity surveyor, he hasn’t ruled out heading back home to muck in when he hangs up the boots. “There’s potentially another line of work there for me if I go back. I’ve got two older brothers; my eldest brother Sid did actuarial studies and works in the city but Lachlan (three years older) did horticultural science and is now back on the farm.”
And after taking his rugby bow with the Macquarie Emus U10s, it was in Lachlan’s footsteps he initially trod; firstly through St Joseph’s College where, after three years, he found himself captaining the Australian Schoolboys side on a tour of the UK and then lifting the 2006 U19 World Cup in Dubai; and later through the rugby academy that is Sydney University.
Since then, it’s been a story of rapid progress having come through the Waratahs Academy to earn a full-time contract and spending three years touring the world with the Aussie Sevens team but it was his exploits in 2010 that really announced him on all fronts. He made his Super Rugby debut against the Highlanders, captained the Aussie Sevens to a silver medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, represented the Australian Barbarians and grabbed a seat on the plane as a Wallaby Spring tourist, featuring in both midweek games against Leicester and Munster.
McCutcheon admits that it was a massive 12 months to experience but he isn’t daunted about trying to back it up this season. “It was a big year and there were some big steps taken. But looking forward for 2011, I’ve finally secured a full contract for the Waratahs and hopefully you want to get a regular position in the 22 and once you start getting in the 22 you want to start getting into the 15. And I don’t just want to be in the team, I want to win.”
In keeping with his no frills approach to life, McCutcheon’s on field persona is typified by hard work, application, energy, drive and ambition. He has a huge work rate, is a major weapon at the breakdown and can also cover all three backrow positions, and having replaced Phil Waugh in a few cameos as the Waratahs prime scavenger, he is now the heir apparent to the no.7 shirt when the ultimate warrior calls it a day. He’s also sure to figure heavily on Robbie Deans’ radar in the next six months but first things first.
“To be honest, I haven’t really looked too far forward at the Wallabies. Last year I was fortunate to get a taste of it and that only builds the hunger but at the same time, you’ve got to be the best in your role at the level below before you think you can step up.”
In the meantime, he’ll continue to keep it real by filling his time away from the paddock with a labour of love. “I work for my cousin and his best mate in a company called ‘Cutch & Hutch’ which is a handyman firm. We drive round in a ute doing odd jobs, anything from landscaping and mowing lawns to fence repairs and painting doors and that sort of stuff keeps me interested. I like to be outdoors!”
You can take the man out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the man.
Original version published in the NSW Waratahs v Chiefs match program on April 1st, 2011