Australia’s international eyes have turned to Hunter’s rising rugby star Maya Stewart, after she continued her tryscoring heroics with a hefty haul against Samoa during Australia A’s 27-5 victory in the Oceania Women’s Championship this week.
The Nelson Bay winger has played just two games for the development squad, with the 22-point win on Tuesday following a 50-0 demolition from the Kiwis in her debut. She put that behind her, however, as she crossed for four in game two.
Stewart announced herself in the game just twelve minutes in, delivering opposite number Apaau Maiau a “don’t argue” off a scrum. Minutes later, she denied Maiau her own chance, barrelling the Samoan winger out of play for a turnover.
The Nelson Bay flyer turned on the jets in the 16th minute, burning the Samoan defence as she flew 50 metres to double her try haul, and rounded out the hat-trick in the 24th minute with a sly dummy that earned her another five points.
Stewart rounded out her eye-catching display by putting the finishing touches on a brilliant team try, crossing the line untouched in the 29th minute to put her fourth in her pocket, and confirm Australia’s first win of the Championship.
It was a marked difference from the one-way traffic the winger faced in Australia’s 50-0 loss to eventual tournament victors the Ferns. Stewart carried herself well in defence as the Kiwis marched to a half-ton, but the whole team struggled overall.
Considering the Oceania Championship is designed to allow international coaches the chance to cast their eyes over the next generation of talent, Stewart’s 20-point scorcher against Samoa couldn’t have come at a better time.
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With a heavier Test program coming for the Wallaroos in 2020, and in the build-up to the 2021 World Cup, head coach Dwayne Nestor—who confirmed he’s been keeping one eye on the Australia As stars—may call on breakout stars from the comp.
He won’t find many better than tryscoring machine Maya Stewart, whose 2019 has seen her cross the line dozens and dozens of times for the Waratahs in the NHRU Women’s premiership, New South Wales, and now Australia.
“This tournament gives us an excellent opportunity to expose more players to the wider Wallaroos program and show them the standard required to play internationally,” Nestor explained ahead of the Championship proper.
“2020 is a very important year for the Wallaroos as we put together the final building blocks for the World Cup. More game time is crucial to growing our depth and I am looking forward to this tour bringing out more players that can compete at Test level.”
Stewart will return to Australia and join the Waratahs extended training squad, where Hunter stars Cheech Barker, as well as twins Leilani and Nicole Nathan, have already been preparing for the 2020 Super W season over the past week.