The Queensland Reds have confirmed a historic women's Academy squad as they hunt for their first Super W title.
It is a first for the women’s 15-a-side game in Queensland, having experienced success across the Sevens and men's programs.
There are 26 players who have played for the Reds across the 46-women squad, with a further five with Super W experience.
Sevens captain Shannon Parry headlines the inclusions, returning to Queensland after her stint at the Olympics.
“It’s great to be back on the park and in the gym with the team,” Reds coach Rama Chand said.
“We have a really good group with a lot of new faces who are all competing for spots in the Super W side for next year.
“The chance to build depth is what we’re excited about and by starting early we can also focus on a few gaps in our performance. We have a lot of new players mixing in with the returning girls as well as experience coming from elsewhere.
“The girls involved we think have the capability to play Super W or higher, for us as coaches it’s about building depth and developing a program where we have lots of players ready to step up to the next level when opportunities present.
“The women’s game at club level is growing, the quality of Rugby has improved as well as participation. There is a lot of depth building in club Rugby and hopefully we can nurture that and create more Reds and Wallaroos.
“Our role is to compete and win Super W, but we also need to produce Wallaroos and with the Rugby World Cup just around the corner, the players have an opportunity to put their hands up for selection.”
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Queensland Rugby’s High Performance Manager for Women’s Rugby Reg Tayler believes the move will be crucial for the squad taking the next step and providing crucial pathways for athletes.
“The Academy program that we’ve run with the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) in Women’s Sevens has produced a number of athletes that have gone on to represent Australia, including our most recent graduate Madison Levi who competed at the Tokyo Olympics,” Tayler added.
“In the men’s space, Academy products such as Harry Wilson, Josh Flook and Kalani Thomas have forced their way into the Reds side and have impressed at Super Rugby level.
“We’re hoping to create a similar program in the Women’s XV space, where we can identify and begin working with players early in their careers and help prepare them to be professional athletes.”
REDS ACADEMY SQUAD
Alapeta Ngauamo* - GPS
Aleena Greenhalgh – Bond University
Annabelle Codey - Wests
April Ngatupuna - Easts
Bree-anna Cheatham - Wests
Carola Kreis - Bond University
Christina Sekona** - Sunnybank
Ema Masi - University of Queensland
Emilya Byrne* – University of Queensland
Grace Qaranivalu - Bond University
Haidee Head* - Easts
Hana Lane - Wests
Hilisha Samoa** - GPS
Kiri Lingman** - Easts
Laina Cooper-Finau - Easts
Lesa Kaleti Mataafa - Sunnybank
Liz Patu** - Wests
Madison Schuck - Bond University
Melehifo Sikimeti* – Norths
Okeroa Manihera - Sunnybank
Shannon Parry** - Easts
Sophie Holyman - Bond University
Taulaga Malaitai* - Easts
Theresa Soloai - Easts
Tiarna Molloy - Wests
Tina Brown - Easts
Tina Campbell* - GPS
Vuanimasei Rasolea - GPS
Athena Vili* - Easts
Caitlyn Costello* - Bond University
Cecilia Smith** - Easts
Cobie-Jane Morgan** - Easts
Destiny Brill - Easts
Georgia Hannaway* - Wests
Giverny Robinson* - University of Queensland
Imogen Mcleod* - Noosa/Queensland Country
Ivania Wong - Sunnybank
Lillian Kolb* – University of Queensland
Loretta Lealiifano - Easts
Luisa Sekona - Sunnybank
Malaela Su'a* - Easts
Melanie Wilks - Bond University
Natalie Wright – University of Queensland
Nicola Emsley – ADF/Caloundra
Renae Nona - Sunnybank
Sarah Lewis* - GPS
Tyesha Mikaio* - Easts
Vani Va'aga* - Sunnybank
*Denotes uncapped player
**Denotes capped Wallaroo