Hunter Women’s representative coach Gerry Mason has said he would “love to see” more selection squad fixtures for his star-studded squad in the coming seasons.
The Hunter outfit had a less than stellar NSW Country Championships earlier in the year after a 10-nil upset at the hands of Central Coast pipped their hopes early.
Later in the rep season, however, Hunter shone on the biggest stage. Played out as a curtain-raiser for the Wallaroos battle against Japan, Mason’s side ran out 22-5 victors over Southern Inland’s travelling team.
The clash at No.2 Sportsground in July showed the gathered crowd one thing – there’s quality all the way from the Wallaroos to the Hunter. Mason believes it’s high time a rep expansion takes that into account.
“It would be great to see more games in the rep calendar for the girls, traditionally we mainly have the Country Championships and there isn’t much else. On occasion we maybe get a game against Army or Air Force too,” he told the Women’s Chronicle.
“I think it would be great to build up a few regular games each season for the team, whether it’s against the same squads in a series, or different ones. Maybe ideally it would change every year or something similar.”
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With the defeated Southern Inland team a key feeder squad for the ACT rugby setup, and the Hunter already a pathway for Waratahs stars like Katrina Barker and Maya Stewart, Mason suggested a state-vs-state system might work best.
“There’s Southern Inland for the Brumbies setup, and plenty of strong Victorian players for their feeder teams as well,” he said.
“We should be set up as one of the biggest feeder teams outside of Sydney for the Tahs in my opinion, it all should be working towards getting our stars towards the New South Wales squad and the Super W competition.”
Whether the increased rep fixtures are for Super W talent scouting or not, Mason just believes “tough games” against “solid opposition” is a must.
“There’s so much growth around the women’s game, the Wallaroos, the Super W, the AON Sevens competition, all those things are getting girls playing the game at a higher level than before, and we need to jump on that,” Mason said.
“For us, it’s all about getting more people playing rugby, and then showing them they have a pathway from when they first learn to kick around the ball, all the way to the top if they want to go in that direction.
“More fixtures means more chances to test yourself and more competition. These girls will learn from more games, and then be able to push for those top teams and become future stars. It all comes from playing more high-level games.”
The NHRU Women’s premiership had a one-weekend bye for the annual NSW Country junior rugby City vs Country Carnival on Sunday. Hosted by the Wanderers Junior Rugby at the No. 2 Sportsground, it featured players from under 14’s to 17’s.
Sydney’s travelling squads were victorious in both the Mahalia Murphy Shield (Under 15s) and the Grace Hamilton Shield (Under 17s). City scored a 46-5 win in the older bracket, while Country nearly levelled the silverware in a 5-15 loss.