Caroline Vakalahi of Waverll Heights in Brisbane has received the supreme accolade by being selected in the Australian Wallaroos for the 2014 World Cup in France.
Caroline is a captain in the Army who is currently posted to the Middle East as a movements control officer, but expects to be home in time for the Wallaroos trial matches against the Kiwis and Canada next year.
She earned selection through her super performances for the Australian Services Rugby Union–Women’s team (ASRU-W) in the Australian Rugby Union’s 2013 National Women’s Championship in Sydney in September.
Selection came as huge surprise for Caroline, who is currently posted to Al Minhad Air Base in Dubai as a joint movements’ coordination centre officer.
Caroline thought she had been over-looked by the national team selectors after checking with her partner and friends back in Australia.
“I saw online that some of my Defence force teammates had received letters from the Australian Rugby Union, so I rang home but there was no letter for me,” she said.
“I got back to my office and sat there silently doing my work while tearing up, because I love rugby so, so much!”
But the next day Caroline got an email from a friend saying she had been selected, which prompted her to call home in Wavell Heights to learn that she had a letter from the ARU about joining the Wallaroos.
“I was so excited I started screaming in the office and jumping up and down so much that my boss told me I needed a volume control button, while the lady sitting next to me told me to shut up because she was on the phone,” she said.
“The letter was scanned and faxed to me next day so I was absolutely stoked!”
The rampaging prop, who stands 173cm and weighs 82kg, plans to retire after the 2014 World Cup.
“I'm chasing a second World Cup with the Wallaroo's which would be an awesome send off for my rugby career,” she said.
Since taking up rugby as an 18-year-old Caroline has played with the Wallaroos in the 2010 world cup, with the Australian Services Rugby Union-Women’s team for six-years, and also for Norths-QUT and Easts Tigers in the Brisbane metro competition.
“My favourite aspect of rugby is scrumming, because I feel pretty good when I can out-scrum girls who are 95-100kg plus when I'm only 82kg's.”
Caroline took up playing rugby 12-years ago after driving her brother to footy training and thinking that rugby looked like fun.
“I saw other girls playing rugby and I though ‘if they can, I can,” she said.
“I haven’t looked back and have represented my country which is something to be really proud of.”
Wallaroos Head Coach Paul Verrell said with Caroline in the squad the Wallaroos are a healthy mix of youth and experience with nine returning players from the third-placed 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup team.
“Last month’s National Women’s Championship provided a high standard and a great platform for selection.
“We identified a strong group of women, and I am looking forward to bringing them to our first camp early next year to prepare to challenge for the top spot in the International Series against New Zealand and Canada in May and June.
“We finished third in the last Rugby World Cup, so we’re looking to improve that position next year and the International Series will be a great opportunity for us to assess form and see what areas of our game we need to focus on to come home with the World Cup next August.”
Coach Verrell said newcomers to the squad have a varied background from Club Rugby to Australian Services Rugby, and will be training alongside teammates at supervised training sessions conducted by senior state-based coaches in the lead up to the first camp in February