Many players have enjoyed a whirlwind first year of representative rugby like that of Cadeyrn Neville however few, if any, have then had to bide their time for a decade in order to make a Test debut.
For a “big unit” that had never stepped into a lineout before his 20th birthday, Neville has had some journey. In his youth, Neville was a rower, and not just any rower. After school he won a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport where the goal was to produce a single sculler that would break a 64-year drought in the event at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Unfortunately, funding cuts put the program on ice so Neville returned to Sydney a week after what was his last rowing nationals and started his rugby career. When asked some years later why he chose rugby Neville replied, "I liked the idea of running at people with a football.”
Neville rocked up to a Manly training session at Keirle Park. He started on the bench for the Marlins’ fourths however by early 2010 Neville was playing first grade in the Shute Shield before being scouted by the Brumbies academy. He eventually signed a $40,000 extended playing squad contract with the Rebels for season 2012. Neville debut for Melbourne, against the Bulls at AAMI Park, and after just three Super Rugby matches was the ‘shock’ selection when named in the Wallaby training squad for the incoming internationals with Scotland and Wales. Later that season he was included in the squad for the end-of-season Spring Tour.
In 2014, Neville made Ewen McKenzie’s training squad for the home series against France however a first gold jersey once again proved elusive. Neville left Melbourne for two seasons with Queensland (2016-17) before he departed to Japan to play for Toyota Industries Shuttles.
In late 2019, Neville returned to Australia with the Brumbies and quickly became an integral member of Dan McKellar’s side. Finally, in 2022, Neville’s patience and endurance was rewarded. When he ran onto Optus Stadium for the first Test of the 2022 home series against England, Neville became the second oldest Australian - at 33y 235d - to make his Wallaby debut since World War II.
2022 Neville won his first Test cap when he partnered Darcy Swain at lock in the first Test, 30-28 win over England in Perth. Unfortunately, he suffered a medial collateral ligament injury in the second Test and missed six matches. Neville returned for the second Bledisloe Cup match in Melbourne and went on to start against Scotland, France, Ireland and Wales during the Spring Tour.