A RISING star is determined to bounce back from the disappointment of missing out on his first Wales cap.
Rob McCusker was in line to join a small band of Wrexham-born players to earn senior international rugby honours after being named in the initial 32-man squad for the tour of North America.
But the 23-year-old from Minera, who rose through the ranks at Mold RUFC before being snapped up by Magners League giants Scarlets five years ago, was told by caretaker coach Robin McBryde that he would be on standby for the Test clashes with Canada and the United States.
Pacy flanker McCusker, who was training alongside the likes of Grand Slam-winning captain Ryan Jones in Cardiff, told the Chronicle: “I found out that I’m on standby so unless something happens I won’t be going.
“I’m so pleased to be in their thoughts but it is just disappointing to fall at the final hurdle.
“To be so close and to see all the lads ready to go is hard to take, but I’ll take it on the chin and I’m determined to get my chance again in the future.
“It’s been great to train with the squad. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but the guys are all human and they have helped me as much as they can and really made me feel part of the squad.”
McCusker admitted it came as a complete shock when he was initially called-up by McBryde, the Bangor-born former Mold player.
McBryde, in charge as head coach Warren Gatland is on British Lions duty, has followed McCusker’s career closely and rewarded him for the fine form he has shown in his breakthrough season with the Scarlets.
The Parc y Scarlets outfit are building a new team around the likes of the 6ft 4in 15 stone 11lb powerhouse and last week handed him a two-year contract.
McCusker, who has played for Wales Under 20s and Wales Sevens, cut his teeth in the Principality Premiership with the likes of Llanelli before making his mark with the Scarlets.
Wrexham Under 9s enjoyed a weekend in Cardiff, playing a game against Llantwit Major before visiting Cardiff Arms Park to watch Cardiff Blues playing Edinburgh in their last match at their famous ground.
They met Wales international centre Tom Shanklin, unlucky to be denied a Lions place because of injury, and Scotland international Chris Paterson, who kicked 15 points in Edinburgh’s 36-14 victory.
In Wrexham’s 3-2 defeat to Llantwit Major, the North Walians started well and went one up through Rhys Pomeroy before conceding three tries. William Hanson set up a tense finish by reducing the deficit for Wrexham, for whom William Faragher was named man of the match.
Another award was given to William Mills, the first player from the team to be knocked out during a game, making a full recovery in time to invade the hallowed turf at the end of the Blues clash.