McKenzie making up for lost time as Wallaroos eyes ‘redemption’

Sat, Jul 8, 2023, 3:59 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallaroos playmaker Arabella McKenzie is relishing her return to the national team. Photo: Getty Images
Wallaroos playmaker Arabella McKenzie is relishing her return to the national team. Photo: Getty Images

Wallaroos playmaker Arabella McKenzie is embracing her return to the national set-up as they search for 'redemption' against the USA.

McKenzie will return to the starting side for Sunday's (AEST) clash against the Americans after coming off the bench during the 50-0 defeat to the Black Ferns last week.

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The 24-year-old returns as a more well-rounded player after spending the past season with English powerhouses Harlequins.

McKenzie floated around the backline to start with, however, she found considerable success at inside centre, named in the Premier 15s team of the season.

“It was another perspective in the backline and another set of eyes for the ten so I picked up little things here and then that I trust with my inside centres now,” she told Rugby.com.au.

“It’s great to have that in the toolbox and having three positions I can cover in a team (flyhalf, centre, fullback) is beneficial for the team as well.

“Prem 15s is the best comp in the world and playing against some of the best in the world is awesome. There’s some in this USA team so it was really exciting and great team to be a part of.”

McKenzie was one of four English-based played to miss the win over Fijiana in May and conceded it was a tough watch from the other side of the world.

“I had to mute all the social media channels during the Fiji Test and didn’t reply to some of the girls when they’re telling me about camp and how good it is," she joked.

“I was kind of stuck in a pre-season in England after our season finished but it was great to watch and great to be amongst it...I haven’t really missed a camp since my debut in 2019 so I felt like the new kid rejoining with that nervous, exciting energy."

The Wallaroos enter Sunday's game hungry after the thumping defeat to the Kiwis.

McKenzie believes they need to 'restore pride in the jersey' as they look for just their second win over the USA.

“It was hugely disappointing,” she added on the NZ defeat.

“I thought we trained relatively well that week and I think we ticked all our all boxed but to go out to put on a performance like that was disappointing but the girls have stuck together and bounced back.

“We’ve got such a strong bond so we’ve worked through our review and on the things we really need to hone on which was our defence.

“We’re really excited to get out there and have a bit of redemption. We’ve got that responsibility wearing the gold jersey to put some pride back in it.

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