AT 31 years of age, Steve Paulsen's national representation has come better late than never.
Collingwood Park resident Paulsen spoke to the QT from Brisbane Airport as he was preparing to fly out to Hong Kong yesterday to represent Australia at the Hong Kong Sixes tournament.
"It's a good feeling," Paulsen said of the chance to represent Australia.
"It's one I haven't had before.
"I didn't see anything like this on the radar.
"I was lucky there were a few (Sheffield) Shield games on and a few players unavailable.
"I'm looking forward to the trip away and having fun at the tournament."
Paulsen, who captains Wests in the Brisbane premier grade competition, made his Sheffield Shield debut for Queensland last summer and played three games.
He has not been called on so far this season. While it is top of his goals, he is more than happy to pass it up this weekend.
"I'd rather have the Australian badge on but I miss playing Shield cricket," he said.
With his Shield debut, selection in the Brisbane Heat Twenty20 franchise and now Australian six-a-side representation all coming in the past 12 months, it would seem Paulsen has found the recipe for success in his 30s that eluded him throughout his 20s.
"I haven't done a lot different," the department of sport and recreation employee said.
"I think there's a different mentality at Queensland Cricket with Darren (coach Darren Lehmann) and Trevor Hohns back on board.
"They're rewarding players who have done well in grade cricket."
Yet Paulsen holds no bitterness he hasn't been given more chances sooner. "I'm still happy and glad to finally get the opportunities now," he said.
"I'm a better player now than I was five or six years ago.
"It comes from experience and getting to know your game better."
A wife and two children means there are also more important things in his life than cricket.
Paulsen hasn't made as many runs for Wests as he would have liked this season, so is not surprised the Bulls haven't come knocking this summer yet.
But his Twenty20 form is immaculate.
Paulsen hit 62 form 42 balls for the Burners against the Country Infernos in the Brisbane T20 challenge last weekend to steer them to victory.
"I was lucky enough to go well," he said. "It was my third 50 in five bats (in the competition)."
It was his form in the challenge last summer that earned Paulsen a Brisbane Heat contract. He is hoping for a repeat this summer.
"My first goal (after Hong Kong) is to play for Queensland and either the Heat or someone like that," Paulsen said. "My other goal is to make runs for Wests."
He hopes his T20 form stands him in good stead in Hong Kong.
Yet Paulsen admits he has given little thought to how he or the Australians will approach the novel six-a-side format.
"I haven't seen too much of it,'' he said. "I don't know if there are any tactics. But there's some Test players playing for the other nations."
It means it will be far from a light-hearted jaunt.
The Aussie team will be captain-coached by Brad Hodge.
Player: Steve Paulsen.
Junior club: Booval.
Favourite player growing up: Jimmy Maher.
Biggest Influence: "My old man (Nev Paulsen)."
Best advice: Have fun in what you're doing.
Pre-match breakfast: Toast and a coffee.
Favourite movie: Shawshank Redemption.
Favourite TV show: Underbelly.
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