Banana blunder before iconic Wallabies moment

Justin Harrison’s most famous moment as a rugby player came on his Wallabies debut.

In the cauldron of a series decider against the British and Irish Lions in 2001, Harrison immediately entered Australian rugby folklore by stealing a late, decisive lineout off Keith Wood and Martin Johnson to help secure victory in Sydney.

And Harrison’s heroics came after what had been a rather traumatic day for the 27-year-old Brumbies lock, as explained on the latest hilarious edition of ‘Tall Tales with Goog.’

“I wake up, it’s my first Test and I’m new to the Wallaby environment,” Harrison explained on Stan Sport’s Rugby Heaven.

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“I open my hotel door, which is what you do when you try and get out of your room, and there’s a hand of bananas sitting on the floor. And I think ‘oh, dietician, normal Wallaby day protocol.’ So I pick up this hand of bananas and peel one back, nonchalantly starting to fill myself. I’m thinking ‘cramps, potassium, no problem.’

“Walk down to the breakfast area and unbeknownst to me there’d been a bit of paper talk about myself particularly with a bloke called Austin Healey who’s a travelling garden gnome who laces a rugby boot every now and then.”

Harrison and Healey had some fiery run-ins before the third Test in Lions tour games against Australia ‘A’ and the Brumbies.

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England winger Healey missed the series decider through injury.

“And he’d written a column over in England apparently describing me as a plod, a plank and an ape,” Harrison continued.

“And so I walk into this room eating these bananas, thinking I’m following team protocol and Joe Roff has put every paper across the breakfast table there.

“And there’s a group of players over there, (John) Ealesy and all those blokes snickering along, and I walk in and see this ape picture of me.

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“And so my first Test nerves go through the roof, I’m having an out of body experience.

“Here I am, first time in the Wallabies, I’ve got Ealesy and Greegs (George Gregan) and Joe Roff pissing themselves with laughter at me, so I’m thinking ‘this is really going well Goog, you’re going to play awesome tonight’.”

After that red faced rookie moment, Harrison said he was determined to make a mark on the field in what was the opportunity of his rugby life.

“We start the game and I think ‘right, get my hands on my opposite number.’ And so there’s a bit of a kerfuffle during the game and I get a chance to grab Martin Johnson.

“I pull him towards me and think ‘oh, right.’ Just about there I start to black out.”

Yep, Harrison started to realise that picking a fight with England legend Johnson was probably not a good idea.

“I think ‘I’m doing alright here’ then back foot I’m thinking ‘OK, this is Martin Johnson, OK, I can’t breathe…’ That’s why I’ve got a longer neck than when I started that Test match.

“I got in his grill. People have cans of courage, I had a couple of bananas of courage that morning. The ape.”

And a final word on his old chum Healey?

“He’s hard to ignore but it’s worth the effort.”

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