A sign of a good international sports program is the ability to identify and develop the next generation of stars.
It’s where the Wallaroos A side (Australia’s International Women’s Rugby Development Team) fits as a vital component of helping talented Super W players make the transition from Australia’s highest domestic competition to the international stage.
The Wallaroos A side recently embarked on a two-week tour of Fiji to face New Zealand A, Tonga and Manusina in the Oceania Rugby Championships.
Apart of the touring squad were five of the Melbourne Rebels’ brightest and most talented Super W players in scrumhalf Georgia Cormick, winger Courtney Frankl, lock Tiarah Minns, prop Bree-Anna Cheetham and prop Janita Kareta.
With talented Rebels hooker Ashley Marsters, along with Cormick herself having already representing the Wallaroos in 2019, the addition of three other players from the Club’s Super W set-up entering an international environment is a testament to the growth and development of women’s rugby in Victoria.
18-year-old Tiarah Minns is listed as one of the youngest players on the Melbourne Rebels’ Super W roster, however, it hasn’t stopped the talented teen being earmarked for future Wallaroos selection.
The lock featured in all of the Wallaroos A matches, coming off the bench to provide a powerful impact in the second row of the forward pack.
Minns, who became a vital component of the Club’s Super W side in her debut season, says the experience to join the Wallaroos A side on an international tour was an experience she’d never forget.
“I was so excited to be part of the Wallaroos’ Development Tour as it was an absolutely amazing experience where I leant so much and had an immense amount of fun,” Minns said.
“My highlights for the trip would be the honour and privilege of putting on the green and gold jersey and singing the nation anthem for my country for the first time.
“I also loved getting to know all the wonderful team and support stuff, as we became a close-knit group with a great team culture and we always had a lot of support for one another.”
One aspect which Minns appreciated about the trip was learning all the technical aspects and components of what it takes to be a lock, one of the hardest positions on the pitch to master and be successful in.
Being in a high-performance environment at the international level also helped Minns understand the mental and physical aspects needed to perform at the elite level.
It’s those elements of the game which Minns says will hold her in good stead for the 2020 Super W season.
“Throughout the trip, I learnt a lot on the technical skills such as set piece play, body position in contact and game sense understanding, along with how to optimally prepare myself mentally and physically in an elite environment in order to perform at ones best,” Minns said.
“I aim to implement these lessons to improve my game personally, as well as hopefully adding these new skills to the 2020 Rebels Super W campaign and environment.”
The Oceania Championships for the Wallaroos side was filled with mixed results, with the Australians taking a tough 50-point loss to the New Zealand A side, a draw against Tonga and a resounding 27-point win over Manusina.
Another player from the Rebels who had her first experience on an international rugby stage was prop Janita Kareta.
The Power House product who was an inaugural member of the Rebels Super W squad echoed Minns’ thoughts on her experience with the Wallaroos A squad, saying her learnings from the tournament will help her preparations for her third season with the Club.
“It was the best experience I’ve had so far on my rugby journey,” Kareta said.
“There were a lot of things which were highlights from the trip. I think the environment, team culture and bonding aspects were all good, but I’ve also realised how privileged we are to be in the position we are in representing the green and gold.
“I guess I could give back to the Rebels team what I learnt with the Wallaroos, by having a better mindset, setting the standards and knowing how hard it is to work for a position in that team, especially being at that next level.”
While international duties for all five of the Rebels girls having now ended, there’ll be little rest for all of them as Super W preparations ramp up for 2020.
The squad will play two trial games today against Tasmania and South Australia at Box Hill, with only several months to go until the Super W season gets underway.
And with a host of players now having international rugby experience under their belt, the Rebels side will hopefully be able to transfer Wallaroos learnings into Super W success.