She may be on the path to the World Series, but Australian development rugby sevens player Rhiannon Byers still made time to visit her hometown and former club last week.
A former Inverell Highlander and Warialda High student, Byers came straight from a two week tournament in France to encourage local players that small town sport can lead to a professional career.
"Talent can only get you so far, but hard work will," she said.
Byers enjoyed meeting with Warialda High's newest rugby recruits on Thursday.
"They had a lot of questions about how hard did I have to work to get to where I am," she said.
"It was really good."
Byers joined the Highlanders in training that evening, and spoke to the junior players about her experiences playing for Australia. She joined the Classic Wallabies and Wallaroos on Friday as they visited Moree Public School and St Philomena's Primary School to answer young players questions and run a skills clinic. Byers also came along to the country championships in Armidale on Sunday.
She hoped her success would inspire more female players in the area to rise through the ranks with the sport.
Byers' former coach Dale Beattie said she was an excellent example for rugby hopefuls of the pathway from club football to playing for Australia.
"She has a developmental contract, but she trains and plays with the Australian side. She's shoulder and shoulder with the stars and the people that she's been looking up to now for a number of years. It's a great opportunity, and I think she's very, very close to making her debut in the World Series," he said.
The tough training regime has become routine for Byers over the past three months, and she's already noticed an improvement in her game.
"I find that I'm picking my moments better in the position that I am - I'm a forward - so knowing when to shift the ball and when to carry it," she said.
She eagerly took in as much as she could during the French tournament, where the team took on Spain, Ireland, Japan, Canada, France and Russia. Australia was missing many of their key players, but were keen to use the tournament as a learning opportunity for the development players.
"It was a really good insight to see where I stand against those teams," she said.
Byers is now preparing to travel to Japan in two weeks.
"I believe that she's probably got a chance of making that particular tour and she's just taken things in leaps and bounds," Beattie said.
"But the beautiful thing is that she still remembers where she comes from. She loves to get home."