Australia’s Rhiannon Byers returns to her small-town roots to inspire youngsters

By Michael Hudson

Fast-rising rugby sevens star Rhiannon Byers is the perfect example of a small-town player on the verge of making it big.

Her former coach Dale Beattie said any youngster who felt their opportunities are limited because of where they live should look to Byers, who recently signed a development contract with Australia and is tipped to become a key player in the Australian women’s sevens squad.

“She has a developmental contract, but she trains and plays with the Australian side,” Beattie was quoted as saying by the Inverell Times. “She’s shoulder and shoulder with the stars and the people that she’s been looking up to now for a number of years. It’s a great opportunity, and I think she’s very, very close to making her debut in the World Series.”

Byers is from Pallamallawa, a small town in northern New South Wales. The ex-Warialda High student and Inverell Highlander took some time out recently to visit her home town and catch up with budding youngsters.

She spoke to rugby recruits at her old school and the kids were eager to know how a player who was once like them became a professional.

“They had a lot of questions about how hard did I have to work to get to where I am,” the Times quoted her as saying. “It was really good. Talent can only get you so far, but hard work will.”

The 19-year-old, who has returned from a tournament in France, is hoping to one day become part of the Australian HSBC World Sevens Series squad as well as earn a place in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams.

According to her Rugby Australia profile, Rhiannon opted for rugby because of limited choice of sports and has played sevens and 15s in a number of tournaments.

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