COVID-19 has reared its ugly head in NSW and the rest of the country over the past week, throwing the Buildcorp Super W competition into chaos.
The Waratahs were forced to make a dash out of the Sydney area last Wednesday to avoid being locked out of the Super W competition, arriving in Coffs Harbour three days ahead of schedule.
Waratahs lock Sera Naiqama spoke of the challenges the team faced ahead of their Super W clash with the Brumbies in Coffs Harbour.
“We got the news on Wednesday morning that we basically had to get out of Sydney because we knew that restrictions would be announced that afternoon could affect us getting into Coffs Harbour,” Naiqama said.
“We had girls coming up from all parts of Sydney including the Central Coast and then we met here [Coffs Harbour]. It was such a crazy lead up because we didn’t train normally and then we had to travel in the middle of the week and girls had to make last minute arrangements for work and with their families.
“But because we all wanted to be here, we found a way to get to Coffs Harbour and amazingly our whole squad was able to be here by 2pm on the Thursday.”
Unfortunately, with the situation deteriorating in NSW and border closures with other states clamping down, getting to Coffs Harbour would turn out to be the least of the competition’s concerns.
The Western Force facing quarantine restrictions re-entering Perth understandably decided to pull out at the eleventh hour on Sunday, cancelling their Round 2 fixture with the NSW Waratahs.
Naiqama felt for their counterparts from the West but remained upbeat about the tournament and grateful it can still proceed.
“I think if anything we were just disappointed that we weren't able to play. The reasons why the Western Force returned home are so valid, and we really feel for them, they are just as disappointed as we are,” she said.
“We are so motivated to play this tournament and we just have five fingers crossed every morning that when we wake up we can fight to see another day because it just sucks to come this far, and then have the tournament cancelled.
“So, from here on in, all we can do is just control what we can control and then come Wednesday, you know for sure that the Tahs will put on a hell of a game.”
Despite the challenges the tournament has faced, the Waratahs match will go ahead, and they will face a wounded Brumbies side on Wednesday afternoon. The Brumbies were impressive in their opening round match defeating the Rebels 30-5 at home before suffering a shock 19-13 loss to the Presidents XV on Sunday.
Naiqama remarked that the shock result showed the depth of talent in the Super W competition and demonstrated that reputation counts for little in this tournament and you can’t afford to take any team lightly.
“No one was really expecting it (the brumbies loss) but this President’s team has been such a great addition to the Super W competition,” she said.
“They've got nothing to lose, and it's just so great to see that these Presidents girls impress on the stage that they have, and it just goes to show that it's not necessarily about how long you've been in the competition. It's about who shows up on the day.”
In an uncertain world, for the Waratahs women it’s about making every day count and ensuring the team is ready for whatever comes their way, spelling trouble for the Brumbies.
“As I sit here right now, we're just so grateful to still be here in Coffs Harbour and have the potential to play our game,” Naiqama said
“So, we're just going to make sure that every game that we do get, we’re going to play it like it’s our last. We have the Brumbies on Wednesday and we're hoping to really put it to them, and just show everyone what we've got. “