The day before Matt Giteau would be expected to line up for Australia in their Tri Nations encounter with South Africa in Cape Town next month, his older sister could be facing Samoa in a Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 qualifier.
Kristy Giteau has been named in the Wallaroos squad to face Samoa in their capital Apia on Friday, 7 August for the right to join defending champions New Zealand as Oceania’s representatives at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 in England.
The 27-year-old, who plays for the Tuggeranong Vikings in Canberra and has previously represented Australia in rugby league, admits her brother was the more nervous before the squad was unveiled by new Wallaroos coach John Manenti.
“Matt was more anxious than me to find out if I was in the team,” revealed Kristy, a talented outside back. “I got a call from him before the selection camp, a text message before the selection game, and another one after the match. He also called me on the day the squad was named to see whether I’d made the team.”
Kristy is one of seven uncapped players named in the squad following trials at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra where she works, the selection reaffirming her decision to focus on rugby.
“I play a lot of different sports, for me I like that variety,” she explained. “This year was the first time I thought I would knuckle down and commit to just one sport and see how well I can go.
“I have played club and State Rugby, and in 2004 I was actually in the Wallaroos squad for some time before I withdrew from that for personal reasons.
Outstanding role model
“Playing in an international game will be a completely different experience to what I am used to. I’m really excited for that challenge and hopefully there are many more caps to come!
“I have watched Matt represent his country for many years and I am in awe of what he experiences every time he goes on the field.”
Cheryl Soon continues as Wallaroos captain and will be hoping for more success, having guided Australia to the title in the first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens competition in Dubai back in March.
Soon, one of the leading players in the Women’s Game, is joined in the Wallaroos squad by six other members of that successful Sevens team in Nicole Beck, Tui Ormsby, Ruan Sims, Tricia Brown, Alex Hargreaves and Player of the Tournament Debby Hodgkinson.
“We are very fortunate to have Cheryl to lead this group; she is an outstanding leader and role model to all the girls,” admitted coach Manenti.
“The selection game was a great indicator of the competitiveness within the group. The physicality was matched by the skill level as one of the best seen at this level.”
Two spots remain in WRWC 2010
Soon, Brown, Sims and Hargreaves are among nine members of this Wallaroos squad who played in the last Women’s Rugby World Cup in Canada three years ago when Australia finished seventh.
The Wallaroos squad of 24 includes two shadow players and when they assemble at the Australian Institute of Sport on 29 July they will be joined by a further 10 shadow players – who will not travel to Samoa – to step up preparations for the must-win play-off in Apia.
Defending champions New Zealand, hosts England and bronze medal winners France had already qualified and have been joined by South Africa, Canada and USA who all gain automatic passage from their respective regions.
Wales and Ireland secured their passages as the best two sides in this year’s RBS Women’s Six Nations outside of England and France, while Scotland and Sweden came through the European Women’s Trophy to claim the region’s final two places in the World Cup.
This leaves two spots, one for the winner of the Australia-Samoa play-off and the other for the Asian champions. The dates and venue for the Asian Women’s Championship, which will double as their Women’s Rugby World Cup qualifier, are still to be confirmed.
Australia Wallaroos squad:
*Iliseva Batibasaga (QLD), ~Nicole Beck (NSW), *~Tricia Brown (QLD), #Rebecca Clough (WA), Dalena Dennison (NSW), #Kristy Giteau (ACT), *~Alexandra Hargreaves (NSW), #Ashley Hewson (ACT), ~Debby Hodgkinson (WA), #Stacey Kilmister (WA), #Emerena Marsh (ACT), Danielle Meskell (NSW), #Cobie Morgan (NSW), ~Tui Ormsby (NSW), Kylie Pennell (NSW), *Silei Poluleuligaga (VIC), *Kate Porter (ASRU), Natalie Reid (VIC), Chris Ross (NSW), *Se’ei Sa’u (QLD), *~Ruan Sims (NSW), *~Cheryl Soon (Captain, NSW), *Rebecca Trethowan (NSW), Sharni Williams (ACT).
Non-travelling shadow squad: Cheyenne Campbell (QLD), Kelli Donnelly (QLD), Tuaine Ina Mate (NSW), *Lindsay Morgan (ACT), Shannon Parry (QLD), Brooke Rowlands (ACT), *Alana Thomas (NSW), Caroline Vakalahi (ASRU), Melissa Waterford (NSW), Margaret Watson (NSW).
* = Played at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2006
~ = Played at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009
# = Uncapped player