Ferguson determined to chase World Cup dream
She has been announced as one of the faces of Channel Seven's Rugby League World Cup coverage but Jillaroos representative Allana Ferguson has not given up hope of being much more than that for the Women's World Cup to be held at the same time.
Ferguson missed New South Wales's recent win against Queensland in the Interstate Challenge as she comes back from a nagging shoulder injury but has been named by coach Brad Donald in a 40-strong Jillaroos train-on squad for the World Cup.
That squad of 40 will eventually be whittled down to a 24-woman final World Cup squad with the Jillaroos starting their campaign to win a second consecutive Cup crown against the Cook Islands on November 16, the day before the first of the men's quarter-final matches.
For the first time, the Women's World Cup final will be held as part of a double-header with the men's final at Suncorp Stadium on December 2 and despite limited time on the field this year Ferguson has not given up hope that she will be there.
After injuring her shoulder in the final match of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines series against the Kiwi Ferns in February, Ferguson's season has been hampered ever since, only coming back to play two full games with club side Cronulla-Caringbah in their last two outings.
Realistic that her chances of Jillaroos selection has been hampered by her lack of football this year, Ferguson is buoyed that she has at least been included in the initial train-on squad.
"The World Cup would obviously be incredible but I just don't know how likely that is because of how little footy I have been playing this year," Ferguson told NRL.com.
"I've certainly been training really hard but it's not game-time on the field so I'm not sure.
"The hardest thing with injuries is to stay motivated and get back to your best and be part of the team again so the inclusion in the squad of those 40 girls is certainly a reminder from the coach and the coaching staff that they do have faith in my ability to play football.
"It's a huge accolade that he [Donald] acknowledges my ability to be included in that squad of 40 girls but for me I just want to be out there playing footy and doing what I love the most."
"We're keen to work with all 40 girls to make sure they're as fit and strong and fast as possible."
Brad Donald, Jillaroos coach
With the balance of power in the women's game shifting from Queensland to New South Wales in the past two years, coach Brad Donald will have an unprecedented depth of talent from which to choose and he is determined to give all those selected in the train-on squad the chance to impress.
Elite Female Performance Coordinator Simon Buxton will work full-time with the Jillaroos for the next five months to have each of the women at peak physical fitness, and Donald said that Ferguson will be given every chance to force her way into the final squad.
"She's had some injuries and disappointments this year – as have a number of players – and unfortunately missed out on playing for New South Wales," Donald told NRL.com.
"But we're keen to work with all 40 girls to make sure they're as fit and strong and fast as possible so when the team comes to be selected everyone has had an opportunity to put their best foot forward."
Although the final details are yet to be announced, the Jillaroos will play an international warm-up game prior to the World Cup kicking off where a number of new faces are likely to get the chance to wear the green and gold for the first time.
Ferguson's Cronulla-Caringbah teammate Jessica Sergis announced herself with a hat-trick on debut for NSW and Donald said that there are a number of players in line for a maiden call-up into the Jillaroos squad.
"There were definitely some girls that have only just hit the radar for New South Wales," Donald said.
"NSW picked Jess and put her into the development program after she played some really good club footy and obviously scoring three tries puts her on the radar to be selected for the Jillaroos in a World Cup year.
"Because we don't get to see them play at that level too often yet there is an unpredictability in some players. We see girls jump out of the ground, some girls who have represented Australia really well in the past perhaps not perform quite so well in the interstate match but that's just because they don't have that regular high level of competition.
"That's something we hope will change in the next year or so as the game continues to develop."