Finding out he'd been named in the All Blacks was no straightforward business for Andrew Ellis.
The Canterbury halfback thought he was the victim of a prank by a team-mate when his phone bleeped up a text message on Saturday afternoon.
"I had a message saying, 'Please call me ASAP from [All Black manager] Darren Shand," Ellis said yesterday after being named in the World Cup squad for France.
"Earlier in the day all the boys had been texting each other to ring this number, ring this number. It was different people's girlfriends and things like that."
He settled on provincial teammate Mose Tuiali'i, a former All Black No 8, as the culprit.
"I thought, 'Nice try mate', and put it in my pocket, kept it an hour and then gave it a call. Blow me down, it was 'Shandy'," he said.
Last October, Ellis and another Canterbury team-mate, Wyatt Crockett, were in Hanmer relaxing after the Air New Zealand Cup. On the morning the All Black squad to tour Europe was being named, they couldn't find a TV in the rural Canterbury town with live coverage. So they headed for the Heritage Hotel.
"Rather cheekily we scurried around the hallways and found an elderly lady leaving her room who told us her husband was a rugby fan. We went in and sat on the edge of the bed and listened to the broadcast with him," he recalled.
Ellis made two test appearances on that tour, as a replacement, against England and France, and yesterday he was the surprise selection, pipping incumbent Piri Weepu and former All Black Jimmy Cowan for the third halfback position.
He reckoned he had no chance, that the selection was done and dusted. Ellis, 23, had slipped in the pecking order during the Super 14 but benefited from a good tour with the Junior All Blacks, plus Weepu's loss of form during the Tri-Nations.
"In the last few weeks I've worked really hard on my game, got confidence back and am really enjoying my footy," Ellis said.
He will vie for World Cup starts with experienced Byron Kelleher and the year's fastest riser, Waikato's Brendon Leonard.