They’ve worn the gold of Country and now McCarthy Catholic College’s Miah O’Sullivan and Phoebe McLoughlin are on the cusp of representing their state - and all this after only a year playing rugby.
The talented pair were last week named in the NSW Youth Girls (under 17) squad for the Youth National Championships in Brisbane in December.
“We were pretty shocked and stoked about it,” they said
The squads were finalised after a number of identified selection tournaments around the state, the last of which was the Central Coast 7s, where their Central North under 17s side lost the plate final to Illawarra Sports High.
For both girls their rugby journey started when they attended a Discovery Day out at Barraba.
“I thought I’d give it a go,” O’Sullivan said.
From there they were asked to trial with Central North. Twelve months on they are considered among the brightest young prospects in the state.
For O’Sullivan that is nothing new.
Also an extremely talented basketballer, the 16-year old is a multiple NSW Country tour representative, has been part of Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup tours to New Zealand and was last year selected in the under 16s Country State team.
She is also part of the National Intensive Training Program.
“I’ve been playing basketball since I was eight or nine,” she said.
“At the moment I’m really enjoying rugby. It’s something different.
“It gives me a different way of thinking.”
Playing for the Pirates under 17s, O’Sullivan and McLoughlin were then selected in the Central North under 17s 15-a-side side and from that the Country side.
The first time that a Country under 17s women’s had been selected, they played games against City, ACT and the Western Sydney Academy of Sport.
“It was pretty cool to be part of that,” O’Sullivan said.
“It (15s) was very different again. There’s not as much space as sevens and it’s a bit more structured.”
Sevens is a lot closer to touch, she said, which she has played since she was young.
McLoughlin has also played a bit of touch over the years along with league and league tag.
“I played rugby league (for the Manilla Tigers) from Kindergarten through to Year 4,” the Manilla native said.
When she was no longer allowed to play league she found touch football and then league tag, playing for the successful Kootingal Roosters side this season.
Her background in league meant the prospect of tackling wasn’t that daunting.
In fact it is one of the things she most enjoys about rugby - the contact.
More foreign for O’Sullivan, she admitted she was initially a bit scared about the contact aspect of the game.
“Probably the best advice I was given was go in harder than they are,” she said.
It is advice that has served her well.
Both play in the backs, intertwining between the centres and wing.