Not often you get the perfect sendoff but Shannon Parry came pretty close.
The Wallaroos impressed with a 22-5 win over Fijiana to kick off their 2023 campaign.
As one back-rower departed, another turned in a star-making performance whilst the Wallaroos were lethal out wide.
So what did we learn?
Wallaroos captain Shannon Parry has left an incredible legacy on the game of Rugby Union and when the dust settles, will be considered one of the most influential players in Australian Rugby in the 21st century.
She was at her typically tenacious best for the Wallaroos, leading from the front.
When the Fijianas broke away, Parry was there to snatch the offload and stop a breakaway try. The Rio gold medalist put her hand up to shut down the imposing Siteri Rasolea minutes later when the tight-head went on a barnstorming run.
She looks destined to score late in the game when Jasmin Huriwai burst away and found the flanker in space.
It’s clear to see what the moment meant to Parry and the team, with Georgina Friedrichs epitomising this as she struggled to explain just how much Parry means to this team.
It's the perfect way for her near 15-year career to end
2. MARSTERFUL SWITCH
Ash Marsters had found her place at blindside flanker. The Rebels skipper was the best on ground as she powered the Wallaroos to victory.
She set the tempo early with two brutal runs in the first five minutes, setting up Cecilia Smith’s first try.
Marsters showed off deft skills to find Maya Stewart for a pair of tries whilst the flick ball behind the back to Ivania Wong caused Fijiana countless problems.
The all-around starring performance in the first 40 minutes was capped by a pair of crucial pilfers, including a vital one late in the half when the Wallaroos were lacking numbers.
It leaves Jay Tregonning with an interesting headache heading into Pac Four. Piper Duck will likely slot straight in for the retiring Shannon Parry but what happens when Emily Chancellor returns? It’s a nice problem to have.
3. K-TRAIN PICKS UP SPEED
Eva Karpani delivered on her immense potential first witnessed when she was skittling opposition for Adelaide Uni in the AON Sevens.
Karpani’s presence was missed for the Waratahs towards the end of Super W and it’s easy to see why she is so valuable to that side.
To overpower the Fijianas in the contact battle takes something but Karpani embraced the opportunity and stepped up to the contest.
She delivered multiple significant carries whilst helping the Wallaroos gain ascendancy at scrum-time.
Karpani has become significantly fitter and gave a solid 60-minute outing for the hosts, no longer just a 20-30 minute impact player off the bench.
Maya Stewart is slowly becoming an essential member of the Wallaroos’ backline.
Stewart’s pace is a real point of difference and found herself leaving Fijiana defenders in her way on a number of occasions.
However, it was her defence that shone, making a series of brutal tackles to stop the visitors from building momentum.
Her combination with Ivania Wong is crucial to their Pac Four hopes, who yet again threatened whenever she got the ball
5. GROWTH EVIDENT
Even with just a week in camp, the growth in the Wallaroos is already clear to see from last year’s World Cup.
The biggest area revolves around their confidence with ball in hand.
They were always looking for space and how to exploit it, with debutants Carys Dallinger and Fatal Moleka slotting in nicely with some key touches.
The defence was also rock-solid and their work around the breakdown was largely on-song.
They’ll have to find another level to compete with New Zealand next month. But a positive first step for Jay Tregonning’s side, with their overseas players still likely to return at some stage