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Tregonning, Wallaroos banking on stacked calendar as World Cup preparations begin

Mon, 17/01/2022, 2:01 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
NSW Waratah Kaitlan Leaney sheds light on her journey to playing in her hometown in the Buildcorp Super W competition. Filmed by Stu Walmsley

New Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning is hoping a stacked 2022 calendar, starting with Super W, can help fast-track their preparations ahead of October's Rugby World Cup.

The Wallaroos' Players of National Interest (PONI) squad arrived on the Gold Coast over the weekend to commence their first training camp of 2022. 

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The camp gives Tregonning and the revamped coaching staff a vital opportunity to implement their fast-paced, physical gameplan, putting the squad through a brutal camp.

“The excitement of them being in camp after obviously missing out on a couple last year was great and that was my main message before training - just bring the energy they showed when they walked through the door and has some fun being out there,” he said to Rugby.com.au.

“A lot of our technical focus is on what we want them doing when they come back from us and also within their Super teams.

“…The big focus for me is not to overload them with tactical focus because then they are just going to have it stored in the back of their mind. It’s more of the technical focus and how that can contribute to how they can be a better player at Super W.

“We’ve sent out (to) Super W teams in no way trying to dictate how they play tactically but informing them of the technical and physical requirements of what we’re looking for.

“Overall, the physical demands of the game and the style of what we want to play inside that physical and fast style is something we’ve pushed pretty hard on. In that first session (Saturday) which was a big travel day for some of the girls…we were fairly fast and physical which sets the scene for where we want to go heading forward.”

The Wallaroos did not feature in a Test match in 2021, with the likes of France and England making rapid advancements in that time to join hosts New Zealand as the favourites for the rescheduled World Cup.

However, the Wallaroos are hoping a stacked calendar of Tests following the domestic tournament can adequately prepare them for the event, headlined by the inaugural Pacific Four series.

This will likely take place in June/July, with the side set to face world number four Canada and world number six USA as well as the Black Ferns.

Along with this, they will face the Kiwis in the Laurie O'Reilly Cup, with two further Tests being pursued in May.

Tregonning is hopeful once they can get consistent Test matches under their belt, they can build the combinations and confidence necessary to match it with the best.

“We’re going to try and play a fast, physical game as most teams want to play,” he said.

“The biggest thing the Northern Hemisphere teams have skyrocketed is obviously because they’re able to play those provincial and international games so that goes back to my big focus on Super W and their performance through there to have them match prepared by the time they come back in the Wallaroos come May.

“The work that RA has done in building a massive program this year is huge but the key focus is having those good, competitive Super W games then leading into numerous Test matches before leading into the World Cup is going to put us in a good position.

“It’s been hard for the girls the last couple of years, hard for those players and they might feel they’re behind the eight ball because they haven’t played that much but if we get everything going through here with a big focus on Super W and then we get together in May to have Tests straight away, I think we’ll be in good stead come World Cup.”

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As he begins his tenure as coach, Tregonning has set lofty ambitions for his first year, out to best their third-place finish in 2010 and bring the World Cup trophy to Australia.

He points to the success in the Sevens format have had as crucial towards growing the popularity of the sport for women as he looks to make Rugby the go-to sport for those looking to play a contact sport.

“I’ve said from the outset that my two main missions for the Wallaroos is to win the World Cup and make Rugby the number one sport for those wanting to play a contact sport,” Tregonning reiterated.

“They’re two fairly ambitious goals and I think they both feed into each other. If we’re successful this year and I think winning the World Cup is an ambitious goal, but if we can, it can lead into Rugby being more prominent in Australia from a girls perspective and that's tied into the Sevens success as well.

“The amount of new players as well to the Sevens following on that success at the Olympics through to the end of last year, I think we need to have that success to try and encourage girls to play Rugby whether it’s Sevens or 15’s.”

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