Article published by THE LEADER and written by By Ric Chapman
The Shire has a budding new star in its midst following the recent Asia Pacific Youth Touch Cup in Brisbane.
Jess Wardrobe played in the Australian Under 20 mixed side – the Pain Away Australian Emus – that smashed its way to gold with a seasoned and dominant display winning 18-4 over the Philippines in the final.
The Philippines, in their first ever international Grand Final, played their hearts out, but any hopes of a fairytale were dashed after a steely Aussie home side proved too classy. New Zealand finished third and Samoa fourth.
Over the tournament, Wardrobe crossed for three tries and two of those came in the final – one of them a length of the field dash.
That was not surprising as the girl is also a stunning sprinter, training with Jacinta Doyle’s elite speed squad for the Sutherland Athletic Club.
Last year she won gold in the 100m (12.30sec) and 200m (24.21sec) NSW All-Schools championships so its not hard to see her take an intercept and leave everyone, including guys behind.
“I was chased to start with by a guy who gave up with 40m to go because he couldn’t catch me,” she proudly said. This Touch Footy Championship was a mixed affair with half the team for each gender.
Wardrobe, 19, from Engadine isn’t a stranger to sport, particularly rugby league and running. She is also a beach sprinter, and her younger brother Blake is the 5/8th for the Cronulla Sharks Harold Matthews Cup side.
“I grew up tackling him in the lounge room and playing footy,” she said. He is fast and nippy and at 16 looks set for a good future with the Sharks – but who is quicker?
“I’d say over 400m he would win, but I think I have him over 100m still,” said Wardrobe who has a 100m PB of 12.05sec and rates her track career as her favourite.
“It’s hard because I’ve made this national side and the under-20s is the pathway to the senior team so that’s tempting but I really like competing on the track too.”
A lot of NRL players, such as the Sharks’ Matt Moylan began in touch and progressed to the elite level which prompts the question: does Jess see herself in the Cronulla NRLW team down the track?
It’s pretty certain with her 12sec flat pace that if she got into the clear, no one in the league would catch her.
“Nope. I do not like being tackled, so no, not headed that way,” she said.
Outside of training, Wardrobe works three days a week at Endeavour High and does some private coaching.
Training alongside her in the Team Doyle Outfit Coaching squad she has some lively workmates to keep her running fast.
Australia’s great 800m prospect, Ivy Boothroyd is there, as are the national junior sprint medalists Jasynta and Tammin Lampret plus rising junior star Tilly Delfs.
All run for the Sutherland Athletics Club making their under-20 side in the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relay team the strongest in Australia.