Country second-rower Dale Finucane recalls a blazing baptism while a teenager in Group 16 rugby league. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos.
"Punchbowl isn't famous for punchbowls... but Bega is famous for Bega."
By the time rookie Country forward Dale Finucane hangs up the boots, the classic Bega Cheese promo line might be in need of a re-write.
See there’s a couple of things they do pretty well down in the sleepy town of roughly 4000 inhabitants on the NSW Far South Coast. One is cheese.
Another is knock-'em-down, drag-'em-out, then knock-'em-down-again bush footy.
And having cut his teeth against grizzled rural first-graders who gave the term strong and bitey a whole new meaning, Finucane is more than ready for anything the City slickers can throw his way this Sunday in Dubbo.
Finucane was still whacking L-plates on the family car when he got the call-up to the top grade with the Bega Roosters, and he still remembers the former Sydney first-grader who singled him out for an extra special welcome to the Group 16 big time.
"He was a guy always good for roughing up the younger guys... he had some pretty interesting methods too..." laughs Finucane as he recalls the Eden Tigers second-rower (whose name we have withheld) apparently renowned within the sub-leagues for his thorough examinations of a young footballer's manhood.
"I was actually playing five-eighth for the Bega side, so I was defending out a bit wider and not amongst the big boys in the middle as much.
“But that didn’t matter, he still got me.
“He never missed anyone."
Needless to say, the young Dogs tyro will be ripping in as he makes his senior rep debut for Country this weekend. You'd expect nothing less from a guy nicknamed Kaos.
"I’d like to go into the game with a bit of physicality, just to make my presence felt by the City boys," Finucane tells NRL.com.
"These games are obviously Origin selection games, so I just want to do the best that I can and put my best foot forward."
"It’s an honour to be able to represent the area that I came from.
"Some people say it’s a little bit more difficult just with the pathways making it from the country, because there’s generally a lot more travel involved in the earlier games and it’s really good to be able to represent country rugby league."
Alongside him in the maroon and gold will be a face Finucane is all too familiar with.
Having progressed through SG Ball, Toyota and NSW Cup to make their NRL debuts within three weeks of each other in mid-2012, Finucane and Bulldogs teammate Josh Jackson have had one hell of a run together, having not missed a game together in the blue and white for almost two years.
"It is very nice to be alongside him in the rep jumper," Finucane says of the Gulgong junior who has been by his side since the pair lobbed up on the Dogs doorstep as a couple of untried rough and tumble country boys five years ago.
"To spend all that time during my younger years with him going through the system at the Bulldogs and now to stand alongside him and represent country with a good mate is a big honour."
Even if Jackson did recently move out of the Menai flat the pair had shared since 2009, leaving behind Finucane and his old habit of eating his breakfast in the shower for greener pastures?
You can see in his eyes the separation still stings, but Finucane is defiant when quizzed on the bromance break-up.
"It's nice not having all his crap about the place, he was that messy."
But breakfast in the shower Kaos, isn't that a bit, ah chaotic?
"I used to have my brekkie in the shower to save myself a bit of time and get as much sleep as possible in the morning, and then I graduated to an Up and Go and some muesli bars in the car.
"But I've grown up now and eat breakfast like a normal person; no more soggy toast."
Now forgive us if it’s a bit cheesy, but that's the kind of maturity that'll ensure the kid that answers to Kaos becomes one of Bega's finest vintages.