10 May 2024

Wagga's Piper Duck is ready to lead the Wallaroos after 12 months out

| Jarryd Rowley
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The Wagga community, including Member of the Legislative Council Wes Fang are ready to cheer on Piper Duck as she leads the Wallaroos for the first time since returning from injury. Photo: Wes Fang.

After reaching the quarterfinal of the 2022 Women’s Rugby World Cup and being named the captain of the youngest team in Wallaroos’ history, Wagga’s own Piper Duck was ready to lead a new era of rugby union in Australia.

Unfortunately for Piper, that dream went unfulfilled.

Struck down with several long-term injuries including a complete ankle reconstruction, Piper spent the next 12 months sidelined.

But 18 months since she last took to the field for Australia, Piper is fit, firing and ready to represent the country again in the Pacific Four Series this Saturday.

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“It’s been about 18 months since I’ve pulled on the Australian jersey in the World Cup in 2022 so it was extremely special to me to have the privilege and honour to pull on that jersey again,” Ms Duck said.

“It means everything. The last 12 months have been really difficult.

“It’s always such an honour to play for your country, to play for the people within your country and the girls that didn’t make the squad this time around.”

What was only supposed to be a six-month break from the squad, which should have seen her return at last year’s Pacific Four Series, turned into an almost 18-month break due to a freak accident and a slew of ankle-related injuries.

Ranked number five in the world, the Wallaroos continued to grow, beating the likes of Scotland, Fiji, Wales, USA and France, but unfortunately for Piper, all this success was achieved with her on the sideline.

“The girls had an exceptional year last year and I’m so incredibly proud of them,” Ms Duck said.

“Getting to watch them from the sidelines and getting a new perspective of what it means to be a Wallaroo and represent your country, the value I hold on playing with the girls around me and the community of rugby I definitely learned a lot from it – definitely fuelled the fire to get back on that paddock.

“It’s such an honour and privilege and it’s why the way I train to hopefully have the ability to pull on the jersey.”

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Piper will make her return as captain on 11 May as the Wallaroos take on Canada at Allianz Stadium against the fourth-ranked Canada side.

“I think we are incredible athletes and with the mechanisms being put in place, we are constantly building and whilst we aren’t a top-four team yet, I believe by the time we hit the World Cup … I believe in the quality of the girls and I think that is achievable,” Ms Duck said.

“We’ve just got to stick to our processes, stick to what we have in place and the trust in one another that we’re building. I think it’ll be really exciting to see (the growth) over the next few campaigns to see where the Wallaroos are heading.”

The Wallaroos’ match against Canada will kick off at 4:45 pm on Saturday 11 May and will be streaming on Stan Sports.

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