PNG baptism of fire for Jillaroos rookies

NOT LONG NOW: Jillaroos stars Kezie App, Ruan Sims and and Maddie Studdon are stepping up preparations for the upcoming World Cup. Picture: John Veage
NOT LONG NOW: Jillaroos stars Kezie App, Ruan Sims and and Maddie Studdon are stepping up preparations for the upcoming World Cup. Picture: John Veage

AUSTRALIAN Test star Kezie Apps says the new crop of Jillaroos will receive and education in more than just rugby league when they head to Papua New Guinea this week.

With a number of NSW-based regulars involved in NSWRL finals, the match against the Orchids will see six players debut in national colours.

Apps has been a mainstay for both NSW and Australia since debuting in 2014, and coach Brad Donald will be leaning heavily on that experience to lead a youthful side in Port Moresby.

Apps said the camp and tour, in conjunction with Prime Minister’s XIII clash, is a chance to instill the values of the jumper in a new generation.

“You never take it for granted, but after you’ve been in the squad for a few years you know what to expect and what the standards are,” Apps said.

“For the new girls coming through, we like to really re-iterate what it means to wear that jersey.

“The likes of Ruan Sims and the older girls in the squad, we always share stories about the past players who’ve gone before us and what they had to do to represent their country.

“It’s always good when we bring up those stories for the new girls to hear them an understand the sacrifices [past players] made to enable us to wear the jersey today.”

The Test against the Orchids is also a chance for some fresh faces to push their claims for a spot in the Jillaroos squad for the upcoming World Cup.

“Some of the girls obviously couldn’t make it because of the [NSW] footy finals but it opens up the opportunity for some new girls,” Apps said.

“It's always good to see how excited they are as newbies. They get an opportunity to play in the green and gold jersey and put themselves in the best position to make that final World Cup squad which makes us work harder as well.”

While she’s not short on Test experience, the trip to league-mad PNG promises to be an eye-opener for even the most experienced members of the squad.

“I have no idea what it’s going to be like,” Apps said.

“It’s a great opportunity for the girls to go over there and experience how footy is in PNG.

“It’s good to be able to play against someone other than the Kiwi Ferns and take a bit of a step into the unknown. I’ve heard they’re just absolutely mad for it and I’m looking forward to the experience and see what it’s like.

“I know how much they enjoy they rugby league, so it’ll be really good to get that exposure over there and see what they’ve got leading into the World Cup.

“I can imagine [the Orchids] are going to be very strong but it’s challenge we’re up for.”

The visit also co-incides with a tour of the Rugby League World Cup through the nation.

This story Crash course for Jillaroos first appeared on Bega District News.