Olympic dream for rugby talent

IT HAS been a tough road to get there but Gemma Etheridge has fought off injuryto secure her place in the women’s rugby team for Rio.
Nanjing Night Net

Four months ago, Etheridge ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in a training run with the Australian team.

On the recommendation from team doctors, Etheridge underwent LARS surgery, followed byrehabilitation, to put herself back in the frame for Rio.The hard work payed off with Etheridge’s name read out when the team was selected earlier this month.

Growing up in Coolah, Etheridge, along with twin sister Nikki, developed a love for sport from an early age when she startedtouch football after school.

The twinsreceived their first taste of international-level sport when they were selected for the Australian mixed touch football side.

It was their touch football careers which helped them beginrugby sevens after being scouted at a tournament against New Zealand four years ago.

They travelled to Sydney from their home in Toowoomba to train in a rugby camp and from there, they were hooked on the sport.

At the camp the Etheridge girls were selected to travel with the Australian side to Borneo before becoming regulars in the green and gold.

The girls’ parents live in Yarrowitch via Walcha and their mother Kerrie said it was a whirlwind experience for the pair and she is excited to see Gemma run onto the field in Rio.

“She really didn’t play any rugby sevens for anybody else,” she said.

“She was just talent scouted and went straight to the Australian rugby sevens team.

“Their first game of playing rugby, they were really nervous and didn’t know what it was going to be like to be tackled.

“After that first game both said it was fantastic.”

“We are really happy for her.

“She has had three knee reconstructions since she has been playing football.

“That is pretty special I think.”​

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