Gray reflects on road to recovery ahead of opener

Womens Rugby World Cup
by Sam Phillips

Six months ago, as Mollie Gray clutched at her knee while sprawled on the turf of Suncorp Stadium, she didn't think there was a hope in hell she would be on the plane to Ireland for the World Cup.

Two goals were set in the immediate aftermath of the injury.

The first of which, was of course, to be on that plane.

The star flanker ticked that off and now, she is hours away from ticking off her second goal - returning to rugby in front of a sold out crowd at UCD Bowl for the Wallaroos' World Cup opener.

"Six months ago I didn't actually think that I was going to be over here in Ireland," Gray said.

"With a ton of hard work and hours and hours in rehab I managed to get myself a ticket to get over here and to now be named in the run on side is absolutely amazing.

"It's such an honour and just goes to show that hard work pays off - I can't wait to get out there with the girls."

Gray's return to the Wallaroos gold is sure to be a baptism of fire.

A packed UCD Bowl, filled with raucous Ireland fans, awaits.

"Huge - it's going to be a massive game," she said.

"It's going to be a sold out stadium and that, in itself, is going to be quite a challenge for us.

"There is going to be a lot of noise and there's going to be a lot of hype around it but if we keep ourselves cool, calm and collected I think we're going to go great."

Gray's skipper Shannon Parry believes her side have done everything within their power to prepare for the blockbuster opener.

"We had a really good team run there and we have been able to execute everything we wanted to in the lead up to the game against Ireland," she said.Shannon Parry believes the Wallaroos are ready. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan Hertel"For us now the prep is all done and it's time to put it into practice."

Training at both Narrabeen and in Dublin has focused on a set piece that struggled mightily in New Zealand in three matches against the three best teams in the world.

"It's been incredible - the amount of steps we have had forward in the last week that we have been here and the sessions in Narrabeen - it's a credit to the girls and to the coaching staff," Parry said.

"We've been able to get the knowledge in and the girls have actually been able to put it into place."

Parry beamed with pride as she spoke to the importance of representing her country with the coat of arms on her chest.

"It's a phenomenal feat to firstly be able to represent your country and then at a World Cup - we had the opening ceremony the other night and that sent shivers down a few of the girls' spines," she said.

"That made it very realistic about where we were and what we were setting out to achieve.

"It's all about putting on that green and gold jersey and it's a whole squad and management effort.

"It's the first World Cup where we will have our coat of arms on our chest - we're very much looking forward to that."

The Wallaroos start their Rugby World Cup campaign on Thursday, August 10 against Ireland at UCD Bowl, kicking off at 4am AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.