Tarneit Senior College student Jade Te Aute is making headlines in the world of rugby union.
The young Melbourne Rebels team member, who completed her first Super W season earlier this year, has been named on the Wallaroos’ Player of National Interest (PONI) squad.
The 40-member squad was meant to play Samoa in a two-test series in July, but the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on international travel means Rugby Australia is now planning new matches and dates.
Jade, 17, said getting the call-up for the PONI squad caught her completely off-guard.
“Being so young and having just begun my XV’s career, I’m so grateful for this opportunity and really excited to train alongside some of Australia’s best women’s players,” she said.
Jade’s rugby career took off after she won the under-18’s Player of the Day at the Victorian School 7’s State Championships back in May.
She moved onto XV’s club rugby, before making her Super W debut, starting as inside centre against the Brumbies in the opening game of this year’s Super W season.
Jade became one of the few Rebels players to appear in every game of the season.
She described her first season with the Melbourne Rebels as a “memorable experience”.
Jade said all the on-field and off-field team members at the Rebels, including Super W head coach Alana Thomas, have provided her with a supportive and uplifting environment.
“Alana and the entire coaching staff were phenomenal, and all players really supported each other, which helped my development as a player,” Jade said.
Apart from her sporting commitments, Jade is also completing her year 12 studies.
“This lockdown has been so busy for me, still being in school and having to juggle work with rugby training,” she said.
“Having my family there to lend a hand has really helped me, especially my Mum who keeps me in line, making sure everything gets done.”
Thomas described Jade as “an extremely talented player”.
“Everyone is so excited for her and we’re all here to support her journey,” she said.
“To think she is still in high school and looks like she has been a part of the Super W team for years is a credit to her and the skills she’s developed.”