Rising Brumbies star Ryan a student on and off the field

by Emma Greenwood

Ella Ryan had a conundrum this week.

Should she spend her study time over school text books, or swotting over the plays she will call as Brumbies flyhalf in her Super W debut at GIO Stadium this afternoon.

A Year 12 student at Canberra's St Clare's College, Ryan is spending plenty of time studying this year - but not only school texts.

Too young to make her Super W debut last year, Ryan could be held back no longer and was named at no.10 by coach Adam Butt for his first team of the season.

"It's a great opportunity and I'm very excited to play this weekend for our first round, at home as well which is very exciting," Ryan said.

"It has been pretty tough (directing the team around) but all the older girls who have had the experience in Super W and Wallaroos have really helped me transition and I feel like I'm at home."

Ryan will be understandably nervous. But the teen has already showed she has the ability and temperament to step up on the big stage and has the confidence of all at the Brumbies.

"I don't think Ella needs too much moulding, she's got a bit of an old head on her shoulders," Butt said after naming his team this week.

"She plays and she directs rugby around like she's been playing for a long time, which she has. And this level will be no different to her."

Already she has some experience under her belt.

Ryan was a member of the Australian Junior Sevens team that beat New Zealand in the World Schools Championships across the ditch last year, while she also has an Aon Uni 7s campaign under her belt.

"It was such a great experience in New Zealand and leading into Super W, that opportunity and experience in New Zealand really set me up," Ryan said.

The Brumbies' pre-season preparations, which have included matches against the Rebels and Waratahs, have also helped Ryan prepare to make the step up to senior elite level.

"We played the Rebels a couple of weeks ago which was pretty tough but the trials have really helped and I'm ready for this weekend," Ryan said.

"While (the game against the Waratahs) was a loss, it was a massive learning point for us and we've just been working hard this week to prepare for our first-round game."

Ryan's teammates have helped her adjust but her inspiration comes from further afield, with Chiefs fullback-flyhalf Damian McKenzie someone she models her game on.

"I really enjoy watching Damien McKenzie, I think he's a really good role model for me," Ryan said.

"For his size, he's a massive playmaker for the team and I look up to him."

The Brumbies take on RugbyWA in their Super W opener on Saturday, February 15, at GIO Stadium in Canberra, kicking off at 4:35pm AEDT and broadcast LIVE on RUGBY.com.au, Fox Sports and Kayo.