Meet the "Red Hot Chilli Stepper" vying for Wallaroos gold

Mon, Jul 1, 2024, 8:00 AM
Lachlan Grey
by Lachlan Grey
Queensland scrumhalf Nat Wright during the Wallaroos' June training camp in Canberra. Picture: Brendan Hertel/Rugby Australia
Queensland scrumhalf Nat Wright during the Wallaroos' June training camp in Canberra. Picture: Brendan Hertel/Rugby Australia

If you've ever tackled an all-red-headed rugby team on the social sevens circuit, chances are you've met Nat Wright.

Wright, 21, is perhaps better known for her feats with Brisbane's "Red Hot Chilli Steppers" - the self-styled "world's first ranga rugby team" - than her fledgling professional career.

Tickets to the Wallaroos 2024 Home Tests are available to purchase here.

Yet the former Australia A 7s representative and current Reds Super W halfback stands to become Wallaroo #211 after earning selection as one of just two nines in Jo Yapp's 30-woman July Test series squad.

"It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time so to get the call up this week, it's been really exciting," Wright told reporters.

"Towards the end of last year, I was kind of deciding on which one (7s or 15s) I wanted to proceed into 2024 with and given the World Cup is in 2025, going over a year early would give me hopefully enough time to solidify a spot in that squad."

After extended 7s stints with Australia A, Queensland and UQ, Wright's transition to 15s - and from winger to halfback - has yielded rapid results.

The St Peters Lutheran College product finished the Reds' 2024 season as starting nine and now stands to deputise Layne Morgan in gold this Saturday following injuries to Test duo Samantha Wood and Jay Huriwai.

It's been a whirlwind fortnight since being called into Wallaroos camp but Wright says there's no better ideal environment to hone her skills.

"It's unreal, (assistant coach) Chris Delooze as well is a former nine which is ideal for me. I'm pretty new to the position. I debuted on the wing in 2021," Wright said.

"Transitioning to halfback and having that experience around of Layne (Morgan) and Sarah (Dougherty) and Sammy Wood has been unreal in helping me develop."

Wright also shares a close bond with former 7s teammate and breakout Australian star Kaitlin Shave, with whom she spent a season abroad at Tokyo Phoenix.

The pair now stand to don separate gold jerseys on two of the world's biggest stages - Test match rugby and the Paris Olympics.

"When we were over there (in Japan), there were always dreams of putting on that Australian jersey and obviously she's done that. She was playing the World Series before and even got nominated for Player of the Year," Wright said of Shave.

"She's absolutely and completely backed the process through QAS 7s longer than anyone else and been rewarded with that Australian jersey.

"It's an absolute credit to how much work she's put in."

Wales Test locked in as World Rugby confirms Wallaroos fixtures for WXV 2
Vaha'akolo stars as Black Ferns power their way to win over Wallaroos
Siokapesi Palu: Converting the family to gold jerseys
The first of many: The inaugural Wallaroos reunite 30 years on