Aidan Ryan named Western Rams' man of the match against France

DOUBLE DELIGHT: Aidan Ryan (centre) surrounded by teammates after scoring his second try on Wednesday night. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE
DOUBLE DELIGHT: Aidan Ryan (centre) surrounded by teammates after scoring his second try on Wednesday night. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE

Aidan Ryan had heard all the stories about representing Western.

Living and playing in Wellington the man known as 'Mad Dog' had lined up with and against a stack of Rams representatives while a whole host of Cowboys club legends had worn the green and white in the past.

The 28-year-old Ryan thought his own chance to wear those colours had gone, until roughly a month ago when he got the call to say Rams coach Tim Ryan wanted him for the match against France.

The hard-working winger, who captained Wellington to a long-awaited premiership win in Group 11 this year, scored twice on Wednesday night and was named Western's man of the match after the thrilling encounter against the French at Parkes.

Ryan overcame some early handling errors, he wasn't the only Western player to start poorly at Jock Colley Field, and got better as the match wore on and his outstanding individual effort right on full-time gave his side the chance to salvage a draw.

Chad Porter's sideline conversion attempt missed and France ran out 22-20 winners, but the smile couldn't be wiped from Ryan's face after the match.

"That was amazing," the winger said.

"I've never got wear this jersey before but I got the call to say Timmy wanted me in the side and I said it would be an honour to play against France.

"The greats like Mick Peachey have worn this jersey and they say how much pride you should have when donning it and I went out and tried to give it my all."

READ ALSO:

Ryan did just that and, as is always the case, his passion was clear to see throughout the 80 minutes.

There was the hard running from inside his own half as the Rams tried to get out of danger, there was plenty of chat and motivation, there was moments where he got in the faces of the French players, and there was his handy knack of finding a way across the tryline.

Ryan skirted the sideline expertly on the way to grabbing his first before his second, after a France penalty had given the leaders a late six-point lead, came after he received an inside ball from captain Alex Ronayne before darting through a gap 30m from the line and flying to the score in the corner.

Western players mobbed the Cowboys' fan favourite in the in-goal and the celebrations were so much Ryan didn't realise exactly where exactly he'd planted the ball down.

"I forgot the penalty so I thought we were level," Ryan laughed when talking about his second try.

"When I looked up we were near the posts and thought it would be an easy kick but I didn't realise it was out on the sideline.

"But the boys all had my back and I had theirs so it was a deadset honour to have these lads around."

The winger's namesake and coach, Tim Ryan, had worked on creating a united group which valued the opportunity to wear the green and white and it was clear in the warm-up, during the game, and afterwards he had achieved that.

HONOUR: Aidan Ryan speaks the the crowd after being presented Western's man of the match award by Parkes Shire Council mayor, Ken Keith. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE

HONOUR: Aidan Ryan speaks the the crowd after being presented Western's man of the match award by Parkes Shire Council mayor, Ken Keith. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE

Ryan wasn't the only one to speak of his pride in lining up for the Rams, with skipper Ronayne also calling it an honour.

Ronayne was another of the Rams try-scorers on Wednesday, he grabbed the hosts' first 15 minutes into the second half after France had shot out to a 14-0 lead, while barnstorming prop Josh Starling scored the other in a fine solo exhibition of strength and leg drive.

"To get the captaincy and to finish off with a try was just unreal," Ronayne said after the win.

The match was a memorable one for all involved but it wasn't without drama.

A late brawl resulted in France's Jordan Dezaria while his captain Romain Navarrete spent time in the sin-bin, as did Western's Starling, Josh Merritt, and Blake Lawson.

Western's early handling errors were also an issue, as chance after chance went begging inside the first half an hour.

"We had opportunities to win the game but that's footy, and if you don't capitalise the other team will," two-try hero Ryan said.

"But I'm still pretty happy."