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"When I rang him I had poor reception," he said of the call to former test captain Ken. "It sort of went in and out. I think I might have heard him say ' ... serious?"'
He was, and it's a good selection too.
The Otago lefthander has been in good touch for the HRV Cup champions, plays with a pleasing positive intent and now has the chance to fill a hole at the top of the order in the national side.
What you sense he doesn't particularly want to hear ad infinitum is talk about following in his father's footsteps.
Ken Rutherford played 56 tests, averaging 27.08, and 220 first-class games, at 39.92 with 35 hundreds.
There was a hint of "it is what it is", but Rutherford the Younger is distinctively his own man and bats the other way round from his father, too.
"There's no family pressure," the 23-year-old said.
"I never had pressure on me growing up from Dad. I have the name I've got and I have just got to do what I've done to get here.
"I got here on my own bat, so I want to create my own history."
Ken Rutherford will be at Eden Park tomorrow (Sat) for the first T20 in the ANZ international series, having returned earlier than planned from South Africa. He's lived in the republic and Singapore for many years.
Father and son chat and get together when they can, but this is a young man making his way on his own terms. For geographical reasons more than anything, the son hasn't been greatly influenced by his father.
"When I've seen him I've trained with him, especially in the last two years, to get as much as I can out of him."
Rutherford contributed 300 runs at 27.27 in the HRV Cup at a strike rate of 140, and took 162 off Northern Districts in a Plunket Shield match last week.
Rutherford looked the part in the New Zealand XI games against England at Whangarei, although he faces a significant step up tomorrow.
"It was a very good experience to have a look at their bowlers and just get a taste of it."
He won't move away from his batting philosophy.
Rutherford cuts hard and is happy to loft his shots over the infield.
"That's my role in Otago and up here. You don't want to go away from what's got you here in the first place," he said.
He had no inkling an international call-up was looming.
"A few people joked about it, but I hadn't thought about it.
"I try and stick in the moment and think about what's coming next, not worrying about all the exterior things."
It says a bit about Rutherford that he's not thinking further than this series, apart from helping Otago win the Plunket Shield.
They sit second, a far from insurmountable 13 points behind Central Districts with two matches apiece remaining. The blood runs thick blue and gold in proud southern men.
- David Leggat of the NZ Herald