Brad O'Brien could see the potential when he assembled the Illawarra girls under-16 rugby team.
Sure, many had never played rugby union before, but with seven weeks of training leading into the Country Championships, the coach was quietly confident.
He quickly went to work teaching the fundamentals of tackling and building on the ball skills learnt through touch and Oztag.
Their hard work paid off last weekend, the side undefeated in taking out the Country Championships.
Winning on their home turf, O'Brien said the result was a reward for the hard work the girls put in.
"We had quite a few girls who had never played this sport before," O'Brien said. "I had to get their minds into the union zone. That took a bit of drilling, but we ended up with good results. This is where Oztag can help our sport by introducing the girls with minimal contact, then they evolve into the contact sport. This competition showed we can play, now we're looking forward to the State Championships."
The under-16s tournament was one of three played at Kiama last weekend, Hunter Wildfires taking out the under-14 and under-18 titles. While Illawarra did not have a team in the older age group, a number of girls from the region turned out for the Wildfires.
The Illawarra under-16s were dominant in taking out their competition, conceding just one try all weekend and defeating Central North 29-0 in Sunday's final.
The NSW Junior Country Championships continue this weekend with the boys under-15, under-16 and under-18 tournaments in Armidale.
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