Rugby union has found a foothold in western Sydney with the Blacktown Scorpions girls sevens having immediate success.
After only a year of the program, there has already selection success with Jessika Lealaiauloto, 15, and Letiana Tuifia, 16, in the NSW under-17s national championships squad.
Letiana said the selection was exciting, especially being able to go with Jessika.
“It was just us two from the club but we have heaps of girls who have the ability to play for NSW,” she said.
“It’s cool because I thought I was going by myself before I saw Jess was going as well. I didn’t want to be by myself.”
The 2017 season has been a year of growth for the Scorpions, culminating in a tremendous showing at the state championships.
On day one, the side topped its pool, but injuries on day two saw the under-17s Scorpions finish fourth overall in the club’s first time at the event.
Jessika is the youngest play selected in the squad and said it was “overwhelming”, especially when she generally fills in for the under-17s.
“We were pretty shocked when we found out to be honest, we’re the youngest ones in the team,” she said.
“We played last year but it wasn’t as big as this year. It has been good because we’re more like family now.”
Scorpions girls program coach Ben Tuipulotu it was great to “see results and progress from each of the girls”.
“They have developed in leaps and bounds from girls who didn’t know how to pass, tackle or read the game,” he said.
“By turning up every week and doing the hard yards, they know how to throw passes, they know how to tackle, they know to catch and step and run, they know how to read the game.
“Most of the girls are from a league background, league does help union and union helps league.”
Tuipulotu was a former Tongan international, playing in a World Cup for the nation.
He said it has been great to see the rise of the women’s game.
“At the Scorpions, the club is booming from age groups from under-10s all the way to 17s,” he said.
“Since the Australian women’s team won gold at the Olympics, all these teenage girls have come through and want to be part of that.
“We like to give back to the community and western Sydney grow and that union is still alive and well in our region.”