From Bunnings to big time, Rocchiccioli pays tribute to Agar

Fighting through severe cramps and the flu, Western Australia’s star off-spinner labels their latest title his sweetest

'I went through a litre of lemonade': Rocchiccioli's flu game

Corey Rocchiccioli revealed he drank a litre of lemonade to overcome the flu during the Marsh Sheffield Shield final as the former Bunnings worker paid an emotional tribute to the man he replaced in Western Australia's latest title-winning team, Ashton Agar.

Rocchiccioli admitted he was "iffy" to feature in WA's third consecutive Shield final triumph after waking with fever on the morning of the decider, before steeling himself for a telling seven-wicket effort in their 377-run win over Tasmania.

With national selector Tony Dodemaide watching on, the 26-year-old pushed through severe cramps to take his season wicket tally to 46, the most by a right-arm finger spinner in 32 years.

"Day one and day two were a bit of a battle, I was cramping and I had the flu," Rocchiccioli told reporters after clinching what he labelled the sweetest of his three Shield titles.

"At about 4am (before) day one, there was a stage where I was a little bit iffy. I'd woken up with a bit of a fever. But I came to my senses that if I was to pull out I've got five days of watching the boys hopefully win.

Rocchiccioli continues breakout season with Shield final four-for

"I just sort of said, 'roll up and cop it'."

"At one stage, I went through a litre of lemonade to try and get some sugar back into me. I was struggling. I was cramping in both calves – there's some footage of me having a double calf cramp on the floor.

"But you're playing in a Shield final, you've got no excuses. You roll up and do your job. I found a way and that's what makes me really happy."

The towering Rocchiccioli came into his own in 2023-24 and his extra bounce has proved a handful for Shield batters, particularly at the WACA Ground where he now has 42 wickets at 25.38 in 13 first-class matches.

The off-spinner is now firmly in the conversation as a possible successor to Nathan Lyon in the Test team.

It's a far cry from five years ago when Rocchiccioli was working part-time at a hardware store while moonlighting as "a bits and pieces second-grade player who bowled a bit and batted a bit".

A switch in Premier teams from Wanneroo to University proved a catalyst to vaulting him into WA's calculations.

"I worked at Bunnings when I was 20, I was studying a sports science degree at 21, I was still playing Uni twos at 21," said Rocchiccioli. "Now I've got three Sheffield Shield flags at 26.

"It's probably one of those things that at the back-end of my career I'm going to have to sit back and really enjoy it.

"The fact that this year I was able to contribute, and the role that I had to play the whole year, probably made it the best one out of the three."

Rocchiccioli's rise has been so swift that there was no room for Agar, who played a Test for Australia just over a year ago, in WA's XI for the decider.

But when Rocchiccioli made a poor start to his initial spell on Sunday, conceding 17 from his first seven balls, Agar was the first to offer assistance.

"When I wasn't bowling my best, he came out and gave me a couple of tips and tricks that I could get my bowling back on track," Rocchiccioli said of his mentor.

"One of our values is humility, and if you ever want to see (that) exemplified more, it's Ash Agar to me.

"The last five years he's looked after me like I'm his little brother, and I don't know whether he necessarily thought that one day I'd take his spot.

"I'm almost crying thinking about how much I love him and how much he's done for me. He's been so humble and so vulnerable to give me the tips and show me the love.

"I'm sure he wanted to be out there today. But he kept giving me all the love, the respect, giving me tips. I love him."