Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning could barely hide his excitement about the return of Sevens star Sharni Williams for the World Cup as competition for spots only intensifies.
Williams was named in the 32-player squad for next month's hallmark event, her fourth World Cup after featuring in 2010, '14 and '17.
The 34-year-old made her intentions clear in April whilst speaking to Rugby.com.au, set to join next week's camp on the Gold Coast at the conclusion of the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Cape Town.
“It started early on the year with the Sevens girls sending an expression of interest, we knew that the hectic schedule they had this year that we wouldn’t see them until after their World Cup but Sharni’s been super keen since the beginning,” Tregonning told Rugby.com.au
“She’s been super passionate about Rugby in general, but knowing she got her start and where she is now through 15s, she’ll value added on and off the field. She’s an outstanding Rugby player and person to have involved in the squad.
“She helps some of the younger players within the camp environment and obviously be an outstanding contributor on the field.
“I think she’s in some of the best form of her career, she’s obviously relishing the chance to work with (head of Sevens Athletic Performance) Tommy Carter and really ripping and tearing into the Sevens. She’ll be a great asset to the team.”
Williams largely has been used at inside centre in the past for the Wallaroos, with Tregonning using the likes of Cecilia Smith, Siokapesi Palu and Pauline Piliae-Rasambale in 2022.
It reflects the ongoing competition for spots with every position up for grabs, as evident with Grace Hamilton's omission from the first O'Reilly Cup Test in Christchurch.
“We’re very much week-in, week-out trying to pick players on form and we want them competing hard at training and that’s going to make everyone better. Every in the squad has the possibility of starting,” Tregonning said.
“Obviously there have been players that have been a bit more of a mainstay throughout that time like G-Fred (Georgina Friedrichs) at outside centre, Pauline (Piliae-Rasambale) has started pretty much all Tests in a couple of positions.
“We’re really focused on being competitive with each other at training and if opportunities arise and force their way into the starting side, that’s something we want to reward.”
Tregonning confirmed Waratahs flyer Maya Stewart will be ready to go for the World Cup, continuing her return to full contact.
Stewart, who was the Super W leading tryscorer in 2021, missed the 2022 season after suffering an ACL injury and will push for a Wallaroos debut ahead of the opening Test on October 8.
“She’s obviously still returning to contact and doing that during the O’Reilly series, she’s been working really hard to put herself in position for selection and looking forward to the opportunity to do so.
“As a quality person in and around the group as well as the potential she has as a player, we’re looking forward to here ripping into camp next week.”