MEL Waterford has experienced plenty of special moments in her rugby union career, but the prospect of leading the Central West women's side into action against a Super Rugby outfit is one she'd never dreamt of.
So when the star Bathurst Bulldog and Blue Bullettes skipper was told Central West will be taking on the Melbourne Rebels in a trial match next February - well the word excitement only scrapes the surface of what she felt.
Waterford knows it will be a massive moment not only for the Blue Bullettes, but Central West Rugby Union in general.
"This is the biggest trial Central West has ever played," she said.
"We were lucky enough to play Sydney Uni last year and played a lot of their really good girls, and in 2019 we got to go to New Zealand and have an opportunity to play against some of those teams over there, but we've never had a trial against a Super W team.
"It's where Central West wants to go, expanding its growth and the development of its players and it will just help with that."
The trial was organised by Central West Rugby Union chief executive officer Matt Tink and Rebels coach Alana Thomas, a former Orange Emus and Forbes Platypi player.
Though Waterford, a player with a lengthy representative resume, will naturally enjoy the chance to play against such a quality opposition, she is more excited about the chance it offers the Blue Bullettes' young and emerging talents.
She's already seen firsthand what being part of the senior Central West side has done for the confidence of talents like Bathurst Bulldogs winger Jacinta Windsor. The benefits of playing against the Rebels could be huge.
"For a lot of our girls, it will be playing against your idols, they grow up watching the Super W and want to be like them. You don't get an opportunity like this very often, so when you do, you take it," Waterford said.
"It will be a really good opportunity, it's probably the best trial you'll ever get. It will get a few of those really good, talented girls we have seen by some of the professional coaches in a Super franchise.
"To get them out there, get some exposure, they can actually begin to understand if they did want to go down those pathways later on what's expected, talk to girls who are in the program and start to understand how to get to that professional level.
"Especially now the Rebels are the first women's team to be properly paid, so it will be a really, really good resource for the girls. Hopefully they can make some contacts with the Rebels players and they can help mentor them."
The trial will also act as part of the Blue Bullettes preparation for the Country Championships. They are the two-time defending champions, so any chance to play 15-a-side rugby in the build up will only help their bid for a treble.
"We'd only ever drawn the win prior to this, so it's great to get two wins and to get a third one would be fantastic, but we're still going to take it same as every other year, just play each game as it comes," Waterford said.
"I know Hunter gets to play in the Sydney comp so they get a lot of exposure to 15s with their Wildfire players, so it will be good for us to get that too, get that sort of an opportunity."
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