The Queensland Reds have named a 48-woman Reds Academy Squad ahead of the 2022 Super W season, in what is a first for the Women’s-XV game in Queensland.
Traditionally the squad has assembled much closer to the start of the Super W campaign, but the instalment of an Academy program will see the coaching staff have a much longer lead into the competition, and the ability to build more depth within the squad.
A total of 26 players who are already capped for Queensland in Super W have been named, as well as a further five players who have Super W experience with other squads. The list includes seven Wallaroos, including Australian Sevens Olympic Gold Medallist Shannon Parry, who has made the return to her home state after the Tokyo Olympic campaign.
The recent Queensland Country Orchids tour has also unearthed some regional talent, with Noosa Dolphins’ Imogen McLeod named in the squad.
Rama Chand will return as head coach for the 2022 Super W campaign, and he is looking forward to working with a host of players over the next few months.
“It’s great to be back on the park and in the gym with the team,” said Chand.
“We have a really good group with a lot of new faces who are all competing for spots in the Super W side for next year.
“The chance to build depth is what we’re excited about and by starting early we can also focus on a few gaps in our performance. We have a lot of new players mixing in with the returning girls as well as experience coming from elsewhere.
“The girls involved we think have the capability to play Super W or higher, for us as coaches it’s about building depth and developing a program where we have lots of players ready to step up to the next level when opportunities present.
“The women’s game at club level is growing, the quality of Rugby has improved as well as participation. There is a lot of depth building in club Rugby and hopefully we can nurture that and create more Reds and Wallaroos.
“Our role is to compete and win Super W, but we also need to produce Wallaroos and with the Rugby World Cup just around the corner, the players have an opportunity to put their hands up for selection.”
Chand will be joined in the coaching staff by Manuel Cole-Manolis, who returns for his second year, while Easts Premier Grade assistant coach Simon Craig has been named as an assistant coach, and University of Queensland Strength & Conditioning Coach Sam Harrison has also joined the team.
The Academy program ran as a pilot in 2021, and helped prepare players for the Super W campaign. Queensland Rugby’s High Performance Manager for Women’s Rugby – Reg Tayler – believes the introduction of an Academy program has had proven success for Queensland Rugby in other areas of the game and will prove to be a valuable addition to the Women’s XV program.
“The Academy program that we’ve run with the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) in Women’s Sevens has produced a number of athletes that have gone on to represent Australia, including our most recent graduate Madison Levi who competed at the Tokyo Olympics,” said Tayler.
“In the men’s space, Academy products such as Harry Wilson, Josh Flook and Kalani Thomas have forced their way into the Reds side and have impressed at Super Rugby level.
“We’re hoping to create a similar program in the Women’s XV space, where we can identify and begin working with players early in their careers and help prepare them to be professional athletes.”
Alapeta Ngauamo* - GPS
Aleena Greenhalgh – Bond University
Annabelle Codey - Wests
April Ngatupuna - Easts
Bree-anna Cheatham - Wests
Carola Kreis - Bond University
Christina Sekona** - Sunnybank
Ema Masi - University of Queensland
Emilya Byrne* – University of Queensland
Grace Qaranivalu - Bond University
Haidee Head* - Easts
Hana Lane - Wests
Hilisha Samoa** - GPS
Kiri Lingman** - Easts
Laina Cooper-Finau - Easts
Lesa Kaleti Mataafa - Sunnybank
Liz Patu** - Wests
Madison Schuck - Bond University
Melehifo Sikimeti* – Norths
Okeroa Manihera - Sunnybank
Shannon Parry** - Easts
Sophie Holyman - Bond University
Taulaga Malaitai* - Easts
Theresa Soloai - Easts
Tiarna Molloy - Wests
Tina Brown - Easts
Tina Campbell* - GPS
Vuanimasei Rasolea - GPS
Athena Vili* - Easts
Caitlyn Costello* - Bond University
Cecilia Smith** - Easts
Cobie-Jane Morgan** - Easts
Destiny Brill - Easts
Georgia Hannaway* - Wests
Giverny Robinson* - University of Queensland
Imogen Mcleod* - Noosa/Queensland Country
Ivania Wong - Sunnybank
Lillian Kolb* – University of Queensland
Loretta Lealiifano - Easts
Luisa Sekona - Sunnybank
Malaela Su'a* - Easts
Melanie Wilks - Bond University
Natalie Wright – University of Queensland
Nicola Emsley – ADF/Caloundra
Renae Nona - Sunnybank
Sarah Lewis* - GPS
Tyesha Mikaio* - Easts
Vani Va'aga* - Sunnybank
*Denotes uncapped player
**Denotes capped Wallaroo