Multi-sport star Wood making her rugby mark

Uni 7s
by Sarah Friend

If you had asked Sammie Wood two years ago, where her sporting future lay, it was all in football.

Now, she's not so sure.

Wood has dabbled in many sports and scaled plenty of heights, playing in football's W-League for Newcastle and Canberra and was picked in the inaugural Country rugby league squad for the City-Country women's origin.

She made her Super W debut this season with the Brumbies and was earmarked as a Wallaroos squad member, before being named captain of the University of Canberra's Uni 7s side.

It's fair to say the 27-year-old has a few options when it comes to her next step and the remainder of this year's Uni 7s could be a pivotal time for her on and off the field.

From small NSW town Grenfell, five hours west of Sydney, Wood started out in the rugby codes before the pathway for girls ended.

“I came from a little town called Grenfell, population about two thousand people," she said.

"I first started playing rugby league actually and then played a little rugby union on a Friday night but once you get to the age of 12 you couldn’t play anymore.

Soccer became her sporting focus after that, with Wood playing the round-ball game while her brother Jono played league.

It was a move that paid off for Wood, who played for Canberra and Newcastle in the W-League before a freak boating accident put her soccer career on hold, leaving her unable to play without some kind of pain.

When women's rugby and rugby league began to grow, Wood found her way back into the 13-player game initially, playing the Canberra Raiders Cup tackle league and making the Country side in the inaugural women's Country-City Origin last year.

It seemed that might be her next step in her sporting life but her quick progression through women's Sevens and XVs making that option a serious prospect.

“Last year was big for rugby league," she said.

"It was the first year women kind of had a pathway for the Raiders and stuff like that so that was a big opportunity.

"Just to even get a call up for the Country Rugby League team was a massive honour and to get named in the 20 was huge, but then I got asked to come along for the Sevens and I played Sevens and that’s when I got the love back for that game.

Since making her debut at the national sevens back in 2014, rugby had been an option for Wood but this was the year that it all came together for her.

Wood played for the Brumbies in Super W and was part of the extended Wallaroos squad as well after a rocky start.

The opportunity is one that has only grown her desire to make a mark in rugby.

“At the beginning of the year I was ruled out with glandular fever and rhabdomyolysis (muscles releasing proteins into blood) so to be able to come back and fit into the squad the girls were lovely and again it was my first year playing rugby XVs," she said.

"To get named in the PONI (Player of National Interest) squad was unbelievable.

"I think I talked to my dad and Dad couldn’t believe it.

"It was a big eye opener and it’s just made me want it a little bit more."

Wood has been handed the UC captaincy for this Uni 7s series and she is embracing the added responsibility in her second year with the team.

“To get the captaincy was a massive honour, I was surprised with It but at the same time I think the girls needed someone that was there last year and that would be at every training session," she said.

UC has finished fifth in both of the Uni 7s legs this season and sit fourth in the overall standings going into this weekend's Brisbane leg.

Wood is clearly flourishing in rugby but she admits her next move will be a difficult one, with the NRLW kicking off this year and the competition for rugby and rugby league talent becoming ever tighter.

“To pick rugby over league I’m not entirely sure, I think I was just in the right place at the right time.

"But over soccer I think the atmosphere, it’s a completely different atmosphere. I’ve been in soccer for a very long time and it’s just new girls and I’m around a whole new bunch of people compared to what I was two years ago.

"At the moment I’m happy to do both but next year will be a big decision maker for me.”

The third Uni 7s leg kicks off on Saturday September 22 at Brisbane's University of Queensland.