After years of hard work, former Highlander Chelsea Lenarduzzi has the chance to be part of a World Cup team.
The former Moss Vale resident has been selected for the Jillaroos train-on squad.
Jillaroos coach Brad Donaldson announced the final selection on Sunday.
Forty players will contend for 24 spots in the Rugby League World Cup team.
“It’s awesome, it’s a step towards making the [World Cup] team,” Lenarduzzi said.
The train-on squad includes players from NSW and Queensland as well as women from the Affiliated States team and a member of the Australian Defence Force team.
The train-on squad selection has been years in the making for Lenarduzzi.
She moved to the Gold Coast in 2015, and started playing for the Gold Coast Burleigh Bears Rugby League Club in 2016.
Lenarduzzi was then selected for the South-East Queensland team.
She played against several other teams from different parts of Queensland.
From there she was picked in the Queensland team which took on NSW, and from that Lenarduzzi gained her spot on the train-on squad.
“I was happy with my performance [in the NSW vs Queensland team], it was a really hard game,” Lenarduzzi said. “My family was pretty pumped, they came and watched the game in Queensland.”
The Jillaroos will prepare for the World Cup with a series of training camps next month, ahead of the first pool match in November.
Lenarduzzi said she felt confident about her chances of making the team. “I played lots of different sports [previously],” she said. “Playing at high levels of hockey, basketball and athletics helps with getting into the mindset of a big game.”
Lenarduzzi said she intended to train hard before the final team selection. “I want to get as fit as possible,” she said. “Making the team would be amazing. It would be a massive honour to play for my country, let alone in the World Cup.”
The pool matches and semi-finals will be played at Southern Cross Group Stadium in Sydney from November 16 to 26.
The final will be held on Saturday, December 2 at Suncorp Stadium, Queensland.