Canadian forward a boost for injury-hit Reds

Super W
by Emma Greenwood

If there's a silver lining to the news that the Reds will be without Wallaroos star Millie Boyle this season, it may have come in the form of Canadian international Gabby Senft.

After heading to Australia to play the Aon Uni 7s season with Bond University in 2018, Senft took up an opportunity to play in England but returned to Australia to link with Queensland at the start of 2019.

With the Reds having already named their squad for the Super W season, however, Senft did not make her debut in the competition but remained as a training player.

And that familiarity is set to benefit the Reds, with fellow backrowers Boyle (back) and Scottish international Eilidh Sinclair (knee) unlikely to play a match this season.

"I think it's a good thing that I was here last year training with the squad and I already know how the team rolls and some of their calls, so it's a little bit easier for me to come into the squad and play this year," Senft said.

Having played six Tests for Canada, Senft is a welcome addition to a back row that will also boast former captain Kirby Sefo, Wallaroo Shannon Mato and Lavinia Gould, who will shift from flyhalf to no.7 this season.

While she did not play, Senft spent last season watching Super W from the sidelines and knows exactly what she's about to get herself into.

And she believes it's one of the top women's leagues in the world.

"I think it's definitely comparable to the England competition - definitely not with their (wages), they get more pay and a bit more advertisement and media - but compared to the rest of the world, it's up there," she said.

"The way that we do this competition in Canada is we go for a week and play each other in a few days and it's all jam packed and injuries and so this is definitely a great thing for female sport and XVs.

"I think making the final last year gives us a good spotter to the competition but I think NSW is going to come out pretty strong.

"So we've got to stay on top of our one percenters and everything and come out to the competition pretty strong."

Senft has spent the off-season training with the Reds to ready herself for her Super W debut - spending a mind-bending summer Christmas in Australia for the first time.

As a University of Victoria student, Senft resided in one of Canada's warmest region on Vancouver Island but her hometown of Saskatchewan, it's often minus 40 degrees in the middle of winter, so an Aussie Christmas is at least 70 degrees warmer.

2020 here we come #superW #redsrugby

A post shared by Gabrielle Senft (@gabbysenft) on

 

"It's definitely a change from minus 40 to plus 40 but it's exciting, it's different and I like it," Senft said.

"I'm a sports active person and it is more suitable to my lifestyle and activities.

"It's definitely a change with the heat and training in the heat - I'm used to training in the cold all the time - but I love it and I love travelling and playing rugby around the world and that doesn't happen much in female sports.

"So it's great that I can get this opportunity."

The Queensland women, who have taken on the Reds moniker this season, play their first game of the Super W season in round two against Rugby WA in Perth on February 22.