Piper Duck is one step closer to her dream of one day representing the Australian Wallaroos after last week being named in an extended national squad.
The 19-year-old will join her 31 Wallaroos teammates at the Australian institute of Sport in Canberra today, and will train through to December 6, working hard to impress coaches and selectors in preparation for the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
The Tumut rugby product was over the moon when informed of her selection, but at the same time, she was trying her best to manage expectations.
“I am very excited; it’s an awesome opportunity and this has been something that myself, and everyone has been working so hard for,” Duck said.
“Every girl that has been in the (Wallaroos) pathways wants this and I’m just so happy, but I know I still have a long way to go and to have a chance to get involved in this camp is huge. This camp will help me further my skillset, and coaches will tell me what I have to work on in the future.”
Duck was looking to take the most out of the development camp, knowing it was a unique chance to work with the best coaches and players in the country.
“At these camps, I always look to grow as a player and individual as well,” Duck said.
“To be put in a camp with a variety of players, who are so talented, and who all want the same thing is huge for me, and regardless of what happens, it will help me develop my game.”
Duck has tasted plenty of success in the past 12 months, helping the NSW Waratahs to a Super W premiership and Sydney University to a win in the Jack Scott Cup.
The talented centre also played a pivotal role for NSW Country when winning the Chikarovski Cup, before spending last weekend in another Australian camp, this time within the rugby sevens program.
“I have been busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Duck laughed.
“To be a name in these squads is amazing and to be touching the surface of either squad at such as young age, and right now in my career, is terrific, and I will make the best of my current circumstance.”
Although one of the youngest in the Australian system, Duck said it was hard not to think about a potential debut or appearance at the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, or the upcoming Tokyo Commonwealth Games.
“I suppose it’s on everyone’s mind, and given the opportunity to attend this camp, it’s hard for it not to be on my mind,” Duck said.
“We all have that dream, but as I’ve said, I have a long way to go, and I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be around some great players and coaches.”
Wallaroos head coach Dwayne Nestor said the camp was an important stepping stone for emerging players such as Duck.
“This is a huge opportunity for some of these young players to really stand up ahead of what is going to be a massive 2021 with the World Cup right on our doorstep,” Nestor said.
“We have been adaptive in a challenging 2021, but we have still seen some really good quality Rugby through Buildcorp Super W, our club competitions, the Queensland Select match and the Chikarovski Cup, which has allowed us to really see some of these young players coming through.”
Nestor went on to explain that a few spots in the 32-women squad had opened up due to injuries to key players in the current line-up, meaning there would be even more competition for final spots in the Wallaroos squad selected for next year’s showcase rugby event.
“We have also had a few injuries to some of our core players from last year and we have opted to let them continue their rehab in their respective states, which allows us to look at a few more people,” Nestor said.
“The hard work continues in Canberra and I know the whole squad is looking forward to re-connecting after so many virtual sessions.”