Emotional Chambers reflects on 'Roos selection
When Will Chambers found out that he was selected as the 800th Kangaroos player after Melbourne's 12-10 Anzac Day loss to Manly he was overcome with emotion.
The tears began to swell in the moments after Storm football manager Frank Ponissi gave him the news.
Chambers then took a moment to reflect on a day in his life he'd never forget before his Storm teammates surrounded him with a series back slaps and of high-fives.
"Friday night will be one of proudest days of my life and to get that call on Saturday night was emotional for me," Chambers said.
"I was emotional but it was more a glad, happy [feeling] and I tried to soak it all up. The boys shook my hand and got around me and stuff like that.
"I was hopeful and confident [of being picked] but playing for Australia there's a lot of good footballers out there and as hopeful as I was I didn't expect to get the call-up.
"It's a day I'll never forget that's for sure."
After debuting for the Storm one week before his 19th birthday in Round 10, 2007, Chambers played 42 NRL games, including the 2009 grand final, before switching codes in 2010 to play rugby union for the Queensland Reds and then Ireland's Munster.
The Nhulunbury (Northern Territory) junior returned to rugby league in Round 4, 2012 and scored 13 tries in 18 games during that season.
Hauls of 12 and 11 tries respectively over the 2013 and 2014 seasons began to put Chambers on the representative selection map.
Despite Chambers' impressive try-scoring tally, he'd turn out to be a perennial bridesmaid in Queensland's Origin squads – named as 18th or 19th man during those seasons before a career-ending knee injury to Brent Tate opened the door for his Maroons debut in Game Three last year.
Guiding Chambers both on and off the field has been Storm coach Craig Bellamy, who had been spruiking his player to earn representative selection since the beginning of last season.
"Craig's always been good and always been a big supporter of me and always helped me with my footy," Chambers said.
"He always thinks his players deserve rep jerseys but at the end of the day the selectors made the call. I've just tried to play consistent footy that's the main thing and that's what gets you into rep sides.
"That's what Craig has tried to work with me and it's all paying dividends."
The 26-year-old also credits Melbourne teammates Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater for their supporting guidance along his 115-game NRL journey.
"They've always helped me with footy and got me through the really tough times and the good times," he said.
"They've been mentors for me in a lot of ways… no matter what happens they're always tapping me on the back telling me I've done well."
Chambers is rooming in camp with fellow debutant Josh Dugan, with the pair set to form Australia's right-edge attacking partnership.
The Storm centre was chosen over 13-game Test veteran Justin Hodges, who has likely played his final match for the Kangaroos after announcing his representative retirement at season's end over the weekend.
A lack of game time ultimately cost the Brisbane captain his place in the Test side and despite Chambers fully deserving his spot within the Australian squad, he can't help but feel humbled over sneaking into the side ahead of his boyhood idol.
"'Hodgo' was a player I looked up to as a kid coming through – when I was at boarding school (at Brisbane's St Joseph's College) I always wanted to play like him," he said.
"He helped me through the biggest game of my career last year when I played Origin.
"He sent me a text message saying 'congrats'… It's sort of hard, everyone keeps comparing and saying this about Hodgo, but he's good and like I said he helped me out during the tough times and through Origin last year."
Chambers' meteoric rise into the Test team ahead of the likes of Hodges, Michael Jennings and Dylan Walker has been fully deserved according to Storm and Kangaroos teammate Billy Slater.
"He's been tremendous for us for a long time, in particular the past 12 months," Slater told NRL.com
"He made his Origin debut last year and he's just come on as a player from then. We were talking about Justin Hodges being unlucky not to be in the side but I think Will Chambers certainly deserves his spot in this Australian side and he's over the moon.
"He's really excited and is one guy that can't really hold his excitement in. He'll be out there doing his best for his country and I'm sure it will be a proud moment for him and his family."
Additional reporting by Tony Webeck