Klemmer ready to repay the faith
If Tim Sheens selects David Klemmer in Australia's final 17 for Sunday's must-win Four Nations encounter against England, someone is going to need to slap the Bulldogs' young behemoth.
It's not a job you would want to volunteer for, although you'd be doing the gentle giant a favour by giving him a quick slap across the chops.
Standing at 200cm and tipping the scales at 120kg, it's easy to see why the cries for further front-row bulk have grown louder since the Kangaroos’ lacklustre loss in their opening Four Nations clash against New Zealand.
Named on Australia's extended bench for a second consecutive week, Klemmer is hoping Newcastle young gun Sione Mata'utia isn’t the only rookie Sheens selects to take on the English and their aggressive pack of forwards led by the Burgess brothers and Bulldogs teammate James Graham.
"You'd probably have to slap me in the face to see if I'm still here or not, but if I do [play] I'll take the opportunity with both hands," Klemmer told NRL.com.
Apart from those within the Bulldogs kennel, the 20-year-old was a relative unknown to the wider rugby league community prior to his selection for City Origin earlier this season.
The 'Dogs had been drooling over Klemmer for years after snaring him from the Eels when he was just 15 and it didn’t take long for the Toongabbie junior to repay Canterbury's faith by claiming the 2012 NYC Player of the Year award.
In March last year, the former Australian Schoolboys rep signed a three-year contract extension worth almost $1 million before even playing a single first-grade game for the Doggies.
Klemmer made his debut only days later, coming off the bench in Canterbury's 24-12 opening round loss to the Cowboys.
A knee injury would restrict the prop to only four games in 2013; however Klemmer has managed to find a consistent place in the Bulldogs' final 17 during this season, playing 23 games as an impact weapon off the bench.
Capable of playing the full 80 minutes but restricted to between 30 to 35 minutes off the bench in 2014, the former junior AFL star chalked up an average of 83 metres from eight hit-ups and 10 tackles this season.
Despite those numbers falling well behind the likes of the Burgess brothers, Graham, Corey Parker and Four Nations roommate Aaron Woods, Klemmer has benefited from the selectors’ decision to name a youthful Kangaroos squad.
With experienced forwards such as Jacob Lillyman, Andrew Fifita, Trent Merrin, Dave Taylor and veteran Willie Mason all named in the Kangaroos train-on squad at the conclusion of Round 26, Klemmer wasn’t exactly counting on inclusion in Australia's final 24-man squad.
"I was on a family holiday at Sea World and [Bulldogs General Manager] Alan Thompson gave me a ring and said I was in the team, so I was pretty shocked," he said.
"That's why I booked my holiday – I didn't think I'd get a call-up."
Family ties have been a crucial factor for Klemmer, ensuring the young Bulldogs pup doesn’t get ahead of himself despite earning over $300,000 per season.
"The people I have around me – especially my family – I've got a [one-year-old] son (Cooper) that keeps me pretty level," he said.
"So that's probably the big thing in my life, looking out for them, keeping everything good and keeping out of trouble so I don’t wreck their life."