Wallaroos prepare for historic year at National Championships

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Wallaroos coach Paul Verrell will use May's National Championships as a talent-finding launchpad ahead of the biggest year in Wallaroos history.

The national women's 15s side play an unprecedented eight Tests this year, with a three-match tour of New Zealand in June followed by an August World Cup campaign in Ireland.

As women's sport flourishes around the country, Verrell is eager to assess some players he hasn't seen in person before when the Nationals kick off at the Gold Coast's Runaway Bay Sports Super Centre on May 12.

Kirby Sefo is one of Queensland and Australian rugby's best talents. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"There is some untapped talent out there for sure and this will be the first time we get to see some of those girls in action," Verrell said.

Verrell said the booming success of the Australian Women's Sevens side at the Rio Olympics and in the HSBC World Sevens Series has drawn a fresh wave of players to the 15-woman game.

"The Sevens have been great because it brings girls to the game that might not have otherwise given rugby a try," he said.

"Not every girl is able to go to the Olympics or Commonwealth Games with the Sevens and when they realise the contact in 15s isn't much different, they get involved.Sydney, WA, Defence Force, SA, ACT, QLD, NSW Country and VIC will vie for the National Championship. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Women's sport in Australia in general is going through a huge growth at the moment and that can only be a good thing for the sport."

Verrell is quietly confident a handful of Australian Sevens players will make the trip to Ireland for the World Cup but said some regular 15s players were struggling to get the required time off.

"We've got eight Tests but when you add in the three days the girls need for the Nationals, then add three weeks for the New Zealand trip and five weeks for the World Cup, it starts to add up," he said.

"We have to take that in our stride, though, and we are confident we will have a really strong squad when we get on that plane for Ireland."

For a full list of National Championships fixtures, click here.