Karpani hoping to inspire next generation with rugby rise

Womens International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Some families joke that they have enough children to field a football team but for Wallaroos forward Eva Karpani it’s no joke.

The new Test squad member and her sisters once filled an entire backline in South Australian club rugby, a sign of their one in-all in attitude to sport.

“We had one game where all my sisters were playing, so the whole backline was us,” she said.

“Back home in South Australia, my sister returned home from having a baby and they chucked her in and they put us all in the backline because they thought it'd be great. Club game.

Rugby has always been a family affair for the Karpanis - once her eldest brother picked up the game, the rest of the siblings followed suit.

Eva’s sporting career started in netball but a teenage growth spurt and a shortage of numbers on one game day opened her door to rugby.

Eva Karpani in Wallaroos training. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“My older siblings were like, ‘We need some numbers, so we're chucking you into rugby,’ so I started my first game when I was 15 and was like, ‘This is amazing’ and kept going.

“When one signs up everyone follows, and for us young ones, we didn't have an option but to give it a go,” she said.

“Now it's a bit of a rivalry, We're a bit competitive now so it keeps us on our feet.”

The 22-year-old created waves in her first Uni 7s season with her powerful runs and strength but it isn’t until this season that she has been given the opportunity to take a step up in XVs.

Karpani made the move to Sydney late in 2018, playing for NSW in this year’s Super W and also featuring for the Dragons in last year’s NRLW.

Now, Karpani is in the mix to make her Test debut against Japan in the next fortnight, one she said on news of the announcement she was still coming to terms with.

“Absolutely stoked to make the squad, I'm still trying to believe it,” she said.

“I'm so excited and coming from such a small state like South Australia, I'm absolutely honoured to be able to show the upcoming girls and youth girls that if you make the move and be committed it can happen.”

Karpani has had a taste of high-level women’s sport in both rugby codes and said her goal when progressing through the ranks was to try and give that next generation something to aspire to.

“It gives you empowerment but also gives you hope for the future women...to also show them that you can do it and just put in the commitment and hard work you'll get there.

“Then more women and more girls who just want to play rugby and give it a go."

The Wallaroos take on Japan at Newcastle’s No. 2 Sportsground on Saturday July 13, kicking off at 3pm AEST before a North Sydney Oval Test on Friday July 19 kicking off at 7pm AEST, both LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.