Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning has reflected on his time as coach, knowing he leaves the program in a vastly different position from the one he stepped into in 2010.
Tregonning entered the role in September 2021 after the program parted ways with coach Dwayne Nestor suddenly.
When the Wallaroos took the field for Tregonning's first game in charge in May 2022, there were 11 debutants and close to 1000 days between games as the side issued in a new era.
Since then, they have managed wins over the likes of France, Wales, Scotland and Fijiana whilst consistently pushing the Kiwis all the way, including leading for the first time at half-time.
During that time, close to 30 players would make their debut, with the likes of Georgina Friedrichs, Layne Morgan and Maya Stewart now established stars.
It reflects the growth in opportunities and the Wallaroos since Tregonning first stepped in as forwards coach at the 2014 World Cup, now departing as one of its more successful.
“Obviously, we start to work with the players to get them to understand the game but it’s the work they put in to put them in the position they’re in at the moment,” Tregonning said.
“There are now a lot more girls who have played the game from a younger age than what we had in 2014 and more opportunities in the last two years with the number of Test matches. In 2014 we had the World Cup and two Test matches before that and that was the only games we had in 2010. We had something like 20 Tests (in the past two years).
“It’s been an outstanding group to coach and it’s an honour to be involved with them. We’ve got the best Rugby players in the 15s side of the game playing over here against the best teams in the world and you don’t want to be anyway else.”
Lock Michaela Leonard summed up the sentiment for the departing Tregonning and what he means to the group.
“I think Jay had a bit of a rough gig coming back into COVID and had farewelled a few of our more veteran and experienced players with 29 or so debutants, a relatively inexperienced group of players but he’s had an incredible influence and impact on the group in building our confidence on and off the field,” Leonard explained.
“He empowers us to lead, express ourselves and back what we can do and our talents, why we’re in the squad. I think that’s shown in the professionalism on and off the field, I think there’s a way for us to go and we’ll keep working on that but I think Jay’s had a massive role in the past two years pushing us forward and demand more, giving us the tools and support to do that.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the last couple of years having him out there but hopefully we’ll still see him around.”
Tregonning will return to his school teaching roots, with assistant coach Sione Fukofaka set to be named as the USA Eagles coach.
It leaves fellow assistant and Brumbies coach Scott Fava as a potential option, glowing in his praise for Tregonning before the win over Wales.