MICHAEL Garvey has been trying hard this week not to think about what awaits him this weekend.
The Ipswich Jets Reserve grade centre will take the field for the USA in the quarter finals of the rugby league World Cup against the world's most dominant team, Australia.
It is something Garvey, who has only been playing rugby league for about four years, could never have dreamed of.
It is hard to comprehend something beyond your wildest dream so Garvey, and his US teammates, aren't trying.
Garvey has overcome the broken hand that kept him out of the second pool game against Cook Islands, playing in the loss to Scotland last week.
The US won its first two pool matches, upsetting Cook Islands and Wales and living up to their goal of "shocking the world," by qualifying for the quarter finals.
Not even the tournament organisers gave the US a chance, booking their flight home before the quarter finals.
"That was a bit of a motivating factor," Garvey admitted.
Garvey said the key to the US success, other than wanting to prove the critics wrong, was simply "sticking to the game plan".
"We've been keeping it really simple and playing within ourselves," he said.
The plan remains the same against Australia but, if qualifying for the quarter finals shocked the world, beating Australia would turn the world on its head.
Realistically, if the US can get within 20 points of the Aussies, they would surprise most good judges.
Garvey, who was playing in a FOGS Cup grand final only two months ago, admits the prospect of facing the Kangaroos has barely sunk in.
"It hasn't," he said. "We're playing against Australia.
"It feels like any other day.
"I honestly thought I'd never play against Australia. I'm trying not to think about it too much.
"So I don't think it will hit me until Saturday."
The Australia-USA match is scheduled to kick off late tomorrow night (Queensland time).
The reasoning for not thinking about it too much is simple; if they do the task will seem insurmountable, as it does to most independent observers.
It is also a matter of sticking to what has worked so far, with Garvey admitting he has surprised himself with how well he has performed.
"I won't be changing a thing," he said.
"I'll prepare the same as any other game.
"I've definitely stepped it up.
"I've never played at this level before."
Garvey would love to show what he has learned with another season at the Jets next season.
If it does happen, he is making no predictions about how much better a player he may be for his World Cup experience.
"I don't think I'll change too drastically," he said.
Then again, he has already proven his ability to surprise.
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