PALMYRA Rugby Union Club standout Vesinia Schaaf-Taufa has been rewarded for an outstanding season at club and state level with selection to the Wallaroos squad that jets to New Zealand for a three-test tour next week.
Schaaf-Taufa made her international debut playing against the Black Ferns in the curtain raiser for a Bledisoe Cup clash at Eden Park last year.
That game ended in a 67-3 drubbing and although backrower Schaaf-Taufa admits she is most happy tackling, the Wallaroos will be planning to spend a bit more time in attack when they take on England, New Zealand and Canada as part of preparations for the women’s World Cup in Ireland in August.
Raised as part of a rugby-mad family in Gisborne, New Zealand, Schaaf-Taufa followed her older sisters into the sport in Year 6 and played for Poverty Bay Rugby Club before moving to Australia in 2009.
She is currently in her third season with Palmyra and has carved out a reputation as a hard-nosed defender who is willing to put in the hard yards.
“I used to play blindside flanker but I got moved to open side a few years ago and just fell in love with it,” she said.
“When you’re playing number 7 the fly half is your target and your goal is pressure them as much as possible.
“The fly half is usually one of the more impactful players in a team, so if you can shut them down and force them to start throwing ugly balls you can take their backs out of the game.”
Schaaf-Taufa said she could not be happier with her decision to switch club allegiances from Kalamunda to Palmyra in 2015.
“A lot of clubs don’t back their ladies teams but Palmyra is right behind us and support us all the way,” she said.
“They put us on the first grade field and record our games – playing on your club’s first grade field is a big deal, so it is a real privilege to wear the palms on our back.”
Schaaf-Taufa is one of five West Australians selected for the Wallaroos after a strong showing from WA at the National Championships in mid-May.
The Wallaroos will use the New Zealand tour as a preparation camp for the World Cup, which will be held from August 9 to 26.
Wallaroos Fixtures, New Zealand tour:
June 9: Australia v England, Porirua Park, Wellington
June 13: Australia v New Zealand, Rugby Park, Christchurch
June 17: Australia v Canada, Smallbone Park, Rotorua