Georgina Friedrichs: Making Rugby Hip again

If the Wallaroos need any inspiration during at the upcoming Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October, they only need to look at their teammate Georgina Friedrichs. Photo: Getty Images

If the Wallaroos need any inspiration during at the upcoming Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October, they only need to look at their teammate Georgina Friedrichs.

The powerhouse No.13 displayed plenty of good old fashioned grit and determination to fight her way into the national team following a major setback which could easily have ended her career.

Read the Official Wallabies v Springboks Test Program here!

“I had a pretty bad injury, a stress fracture in my hip,” Friedrichs revealed.

That diagnosis four years ago put her on the sideline for six months and she had to get around on crutches for 10 weeks.

“I couldn’t put any weight on it and had to wait for it to heal,” she said. “If it had got any worse there was a chance I would have to have had a hip replacement at the 23.”

But rather than finishing her as a Rugby player, it proved to be the catalyst for a challenging new chapter in her sporting journey. To understand that, one has to go back to where it all started.

Friedrichs had a touch football background and started playing Sevens when she was 18.

“Everyone jumped on the bandwagon when it was announced as part of the Olympics, all my friends had a go so I thought I would try as well,” she said.

She played with Tribe 7 which was an invitational team that played in various tournaments up and down the east coast.

Friedrichs quickly made an impact and was called up to make her debut for the Australian team in 2016, spending the next three years as an important member of the squad.

It was in 2018 when she suffered her injury and at the same time her Sevens contract was up. The following year she made her comeback by switching to the 15-a-side game.

“I was friends with the team manager of the Queensland Super W team and she put me on to the coach who I also knew through Sevens,” Friedrichs said.

“They had a spot and they threw me in and I played the end of the season with them.”

That took some dedication as Friedrichs was living in Sydney and would fly up to Brisbane every second week to train with the team.

“Being given that opportunity to play for Queensland brought back my love for the game,” she said.

The following season she switched to NSW because it meant she could train twice a week with them.

Moving from Sevens to 15s presents a big challenge for any player, let alone one who has recovered from a stress fracture of the hip.

“They’re the same code, but they are completely different,” Friedrichs said.

“There are obviously a lot more bodies on the field – the scrum is bigger, the lineout is taller and it is a bit more tactical.

“It was hard at the start because it was completely different to what I knew – but once you get it, it’s not too bad.”

But all the hurdles the now 27-year-old Friedrichs has had to clear have been worth it now she is in Wallaroos team.

“One hundred percent, I thought I was done playing Rugby after that hip injury,” she said.

And since her impressive return the field, that hip has not been a problem.

Friedrichs was delighted to see her former Sevens team win gold medals at the recent Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham.

“That’s really cool, there’s a few girls I was in the squad with and then there are a lot of new girls in the squad,” she said. “It’s great to see the depth building.”

Delighted by their success, yes, but Friedrichs did not harbour any feelings of envy when the victorious Aussie team collected their medals.

“Definitely not, I haven’t played Sevens for a long time, there is nothing to be envious of,” she said.

Her focus is very much on the Wallaroos and she is confident that the team can give the Rugby World Cup a big shake.

“We have a lot of talent and we are learning to harness and refine that talent,” she said. “I think that is pretty exciting.”

Friedrichs has become an important and influential figure in the Wallaroos’ set-up - a player who has shown she can produce the big plays when needed.

When she moved to NSW she said the other Waratahs players welcomed her to the fold and her confidence grew playing with them and under head coach Campbell Aitken.

“I think that whole team and that whole environment was pretty influential for me,” she said.

Looking at the way she plays, it should come as no surprise that Friedrichs likes to try and model her game on one of Rugby’s greatest-ever centres.

“I watch old videos of (former All Black) Ma’a Nonu, I’m think I’m pretty big, but definitely not that big,” she said with a laugh.

“I just love his physicality, he was a pretty ruthless guy on the field so I try to channel that, I think he’s pretty impressive.”

That is a high standard to aim for as former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry once described Nonu as “probably the best linebreaker in this game in this country”.

Nonu was always the ultimate competitor who took no prisoners on the field.

This year the now 40-year-old was still causing rivals big headaches running around with the San Diego Legion in Major League Rugby in the USA. 

“He’s crazy,” Friedrichs said.

And does she possess that trait as well?

“Sometimes, if I get in the right headspace, if someone makes me angry enough,” she said.


The Wallaroos are a proud part of Rugby AU

© 2023 Rugby Australia. All rights reserved. Part of the Rugby Network