Central North’s blossoming young female rugby talent had the opportunity to learn from one of the best on the weekend as they prepare for this weekend’s Country Championships at the Central Coast.
Australian women’s rugby star Mahalia Murphy was the special guest at a training camp for the Kookaburras under-15 and under-17 girls, and open boys, and was impressed by what she saw.
“It’s been great. I’ve been seeing a fair bit of talent here and I think me coming here to help out and give them a bit of inspiration can help them chase their dreams,” Murphy said.
It was the dual national representative’s second visit to the region in the space of a couple of months. In March she spent a few days touring around the Armidale region, in her words, “spreading the word of rugby”.
“I love doing things like this,” Murphy said.
The 24-year old recalled her own journey and encouraged the youngsters to take their opportunities.
“I just remember loving rugby and trying to crack the Australian team. There wasn’t much opportunity from where I was, but I took every opportunity that I got with both hands like it was my last. It’s about taking those opportunities and that’s a result of where I am today,” she said.
These days there are a lot more opportunities, she said, the weekend being the perfect example. It’s the first time there has been a Country Championships for under-15s and under-17s girls.
“It’s about them coming in, enjoying the sport as well, and then telling their friends ‘come play rugby’,” she said.
Named last week in the Wallaroos extended training squad Murphy, who is also a development player for the Australian womens sevens squad, said women’s rugby is on a real high at the moment.
“They’ve got a lot of big games this year. They’ve had the Commonwealth Games for the sevens, they’ve had the Super W competition that recently just finished, they’ve got the womens rugby sevens World Cup and in two years got the Tokyo Olympics so there’s a lot of massive opportunities for women’s rugby,” she said.
“This year’s a massive year for the sport and hopefully getting the game exposed to the girls is giving them inspiration to follow through with rugby and inspiring them to play as well.”
For many of the girls this weekend will be the first time they have been exposed to 10-a-side or 15-a-side rugby having played mostly sevens so far in their rugby journey.
It’s a transition Murphy is familiar with. Aside from the obvious of games being longer and having more bodies on the field, she said the biggest difference is that it’s a lot more physical. There is a lot more contact involved.