At just 20 years old, NSW Gen Blue halfback and skipper Theo Strang has been called into Alan Jones’ Barbarians squad to play the Classic Wallabies and Wallabies next week.
Strang, who grew up in Woolhara in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, was a member of the NSW Elite Youth Development (EYD) programme for two years, captaining the side to a grand final showdown against interstate rivals Queensland in this year’s Super Under 20s competition.
The Australian Under 20s representative said he was caught off guard when he received a call from Barbarians Assistant Coach, Brian Smith.
“I got a call from him (Smith) and he was like ‘hey mate, do you want to have a run in the Barbarians?’
“Sure, I said.”
Strang recalls the moment when he was officially announced in the squad.
“One day, I was at my mate’s place playing a bit of FIFA. I was down 2-1 actually so I was concentrating pretty hard to get up there (and not thinking much of it).
“One of my mates was like ‘Theo, have you checked the Barbarians team?’ It had just come out on Fox Sports and I looked at the team list and I was amongst the calibre of players and I was just overwhelmed… taken by surprise.”
Strang is no stranger to a Barbarians outfit, having played in the first-ever Australian Schoolboys Barbarians side in 2015.
“We donned the Barbarians jersey but it was not quite the same as this one obviously. We got to wear our school socks, which was pretty cool, and play a brand of footy that was really fun to play and really expansive.”
Strang grew up in a rugby family, with his father and grandfather before him playing at Premiership level.
“When I was six years old, I used to play touch down at Easts. Dad was a big footy fanatic, he played all during school and then played for Gordon. Also, my late grandfather played for Harlequins in Melbourne. I just loved the game from a young age. I must have been four or five when I picked up my first footy.”
Outside of the game, Strang is studying a Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Project Management at Sydney University with his sights set on “building skyscrapers” after claiming to be “pretty handy with a calculator.”
Strang will join the Barbarians camp at Lismore this Sunday ahead of their first match against the Classic Wallabies.
Barbarians Tour of NSW fixtures:
Barbarians vs Classic Wallabies: Tuesday 24 October, 5:30pm – Crozier Field, Lismore
Barbarians vs Wallabies: Saturday, 28 October, 3:00pm – Allianz Stadium, Sydney