ACT Brumbies training squad member Ivy Merlehan is confident Riverina players' increased exposure to the 15-player game will help open up more opportunities to advance to the big stage.
Southern Inland will clash with South Coast-Monaro at Conolly Rugby Complex on Saturday, with the clash the first time a 15-a-side women's match has featured in the Brumbies Provincial Championship.
CSU Reddies second rower Merlehan said more exposure to the 15-player game, which the Canberra competition plays week-in week-out, will only enhance opportunities for locals to further their playing ambitions.
"There's a lot more scrums and lineouts, and everything's more technical. You need to know the technical aspects of the game, and be able to do those things well," she said.
"The girls in the Canberra comp are doing those things every weekend, whereas our game (at club level) isn't too focused on that playing tens.
"We've only had a short turnaround, two training sessions, but they've been long sessions learning a lot about techniques, scrums and lineouts."
Waratahs player and Brumbies Super W player Harriet Elleman will captain the Southern Inland side, which will play at 1.45pm before the men's clash at 3.30pm.
Southern Inland competitions manager Jack Heffernan said the match is part of the long term plan to make 15-player women's rugby more prevalent in the region.
"I started here in 2018 when we were playing sevens in the (local) competition, then moved to tens in 2019 and we took a team to Newcastle that year to play a 15-a-side game before a Wallaroos match up there," he said.
"That was the start of this whole process, then in 2021 we had two squads travel up to Canberra to play alongside the men's in an exhibition game against each other.
"But to have them in the tournament and competing for a trophy this weekend is really exciting."
After the Brumbies Provincial Championships, a Brumbies Country team will be chosen to take on Canberra's best talent in the post-season
"There you'll definitely have some Super W scouts looking at them for potential Brumbies programs. It's exciting to have the same pathway for men's and women's at the moment," Heffernan said.
Heffernan said they will take a patient approach to expanding the local women's competition to 15-a-side.
"We're working closely with the clubs each other to figure out what their numbers are," he said.
"We're we're building the numbers up from the bottom, with our junior competition starting off this year really strong in the girls tackle space.
"We're looking forward to it in the next couple of years, and it's just a case of when the clubs are ready for it.
"We don't want to jump into it too early, we want to do it right and have everyone on board when we pull the trigger."
Merhelan is confident Southern Inland can put on a good show in front of a home crowd.
"I think we have a lot of talent, it's good to see it develop and hopefully we can go out there and give it a red hot crack on the weekend.
"I think it (playing in Wagga) definitely has improved the chances of getting more girls involved. Obviously there's girls who live in Albury and Giriffith, it would be a long way for them to travel to Canberra for a game.
"That's the end goal, to play 15s (at local level). We've come from sevens and tens and ultimately that's the big jump.
"I'm really excited to see Dana (Seward) give it a red hot crack on the wing. She's got the speed and aggression to show what she's got, and we all know Harriett is a superstar."
Southern Inland team: 1 Cornelia Tanielu (Griffith), 2. Harriet Elleman (c) (Waratahs), 3. Amy Hart (Waratahs), 4. Ivy Merlehan (CSU), 5. Jessica Simpson (Wagga City), 6. Yolanda Forsyth (Waratahs), 7. Kaitlyn McKay (Albury-Wodonga), 8. Fapiola Uoifalelahi (Griffith), 9. Holly Stephens (Waratahs), 10. Amelia Lolotonga (Griffith), 11. Emily Wright (Leeton), 12. Kymberley Brain (Albury-Wodonga), 13. Megan Seis (Ag College), 14. Dana Seward (CSU), 15. Megan Pearson (Waratahs); 16. Amie Fazekas (Leeton), 17. Veronica Seukeni (Griffith), 18. Ulamila Kuboutawa (Waratahs), 19. Vanessa Richards (Griffith), 20. Georgia Jackson (Ag College), 21. Katherine Pevere (Wagga City), 22. Alice White (Albury-Wodonga), 23. Chloe Holgate (Wagga City)
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