Mighty Duck: Sky’s the limit for youngest ever Wallaroos captain

Wed, May 17, 2023, 6:09 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Piper Duck is ready to lead the Wallaroos into the future. Photo: Getty Images
Piper Duck is ready to lead the Wallaroos into the future. Photo: Getty Images

New Wallaroos captain Piper Duck is looking to lead Women's Rugby into the future.

Duck will take over as leader from Shannon Parry following Saturday's Test against Fijiana at Allianz Stadium.

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The back-rower is currently sidelined with a lisfranc injury but was optimistic she would be ready for the Pacific Four opener against the Black Ferns on June 29.

If she features, Duck will be the youngest captain in Wallaroos history and the youngest since Trevor Allan in 1947 to lead an Australian Test rugby team either male or female at 22 years, 88 days.

“It’s definitely exciting and I’m very excited for the opportunity and the leadership qualities Jay sees in me,” she admitted.

“I was driving my friend to work and I was off to get my morning coffee and I received a call from Jay to offer me the position. I actually said to him ‘you’ve caught me really off guard.’ It’s not something I expected this year only having debuted a year ago.

“I’m excited and honoured by the position and I’m just keen to learn off the other girls in the group which do have such strong leadership skills.”

Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning pointed to Duck's maturity and communication skills beyond her years as pivotal towards the decision to appoint the back-rower.

“She’s got this amazing ability to connect with people and have conversations with all people of the game in a calm and respectful way,” Tregonning remarked.

“She can lead players on and off the field, in training and on game day and has an awesome rapport with everyone around her. To me as a leader of the team, it’s important to not only be able to perform on the field exceptionally as Piper does, but to be able to connect to all stakeholders that are involved within the team.

“Sometimes it’s not an age thing, it’s a maturity thing and Piper has a lot for such a young person.”

There's a nice symmetry between the departing and incoming leaders as Duck takes over from her fellow headgear-wearing, fearless backrower.

“It is very surreal because the way I found out about Rugby was in 2016 when Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry were playing at the Olympics. It’s a pretty sweet moment because how I found out about Rugby was Shannon," she explained.

“Going from there, moving to Sydney and beginning my Rugby journey to now, it’s surreal.”

Duck looms as one of the central pieces towards the growing Women's game in Australia leading into the home World Cup in 2029.

Just under half the squad are 25 or under, with three teenagers included headlined by Caitlyn Halse.

This doesn't include the likes of Arabella McKenzie (24), Kaitlan Leaney (22) or Bienne Terita (20), who all featured at last year's World Cup prominently.

Duck has a maiden World Cup title on her mind as the game continues to grow in Australia and across the world.

“Where we were now compared to World Cup, there’s a big difference already and it’s been not only a year so we’re only on an upward movement right now and I think leading into the 2025 (World Cup) and 2029 home World Cup, I think we can win it," she asserted.

“If we have the backing and support as we do right now from RUPA, Rugby Australia and the community, I think we’re going to go further than anyone would believe and I want to do the best to support the girls in doing that.

“I back the talent of the women within Australia who play Rugby but it's exciting to see the numbers and support growing day by day. It’s outstanding and I know from here to the next World Cup, especially in England, it’s going to be huge and you’re going to see more record-breaking crowds coming into Rugby.”

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