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The Woman Busting A Gut To Restore Strength And Honour to Australian Rugby

We just looked awesome up in the dictionary and the definition was "Hilisha Samoa".

23/08/2017 3:47 PM AEST | Updated 23/08/2017 3:48 PM AEST
rugby.com.au, Hilisha Samoa Facebook

At last, the hero we need in troubled times.

While Australian men's rugby is in various stages of turmoil -- with a record-breaking home loss to the All Blacks and the ongoing fight over the axeing of the Western Force -- women's rugby is on fire, both on and off the field.

Nobody better symbolises the comparative dominance of the women's game than Hilisha Samoa, 32, a prop for the national women's team, the Wallaroos. The Wallaroos beat Ireland 36-24 in the World Cup overnight in Belfast, and nobody was more impressive than Samoa, who crossed for a try and was completely dominant up front throughout the match.

So who is she?

HuffPost Australia contacted a few people in and around women's rugby and managed to ascertain that "she's very very quiet, very hard working and very lovely".

Oh, and you'll love this. She's so grateful for winning a place in the national team, we're told she thanks officials and coaches for selecting her. Which it's safe to say the men -- some of whom are on million dollar salaries -- rarely do.

Cameron Spencer via Getty Images

The Wallaroos are effectively amateurs. Their accommodation, meals and and flights have been covered for this World Cup, and they're receiving a generous per diem courtesy of Josephine Sukkar (who won an Order of Australia for her support of women's sport, particularly women's rugby).

But our best female players must balance their love of rugby, work and parenthood. For Hilisha Samoa, the time away from her kids -- including her youngest who's just 12 months old -- has been tough.

"My kids are the most proudest people," she told rugby.com.au. "They're little gems, I miss them so much. They're super proud, they say 'how many more sleeps left?'"

The answer is not too many sleeps. Australia missed the semi-finals in this World Cup, but thanks to the win over Ireland, they'll play off for fifth against Canada. They'll head home after that.

Meanwhile, the women's game rolls on -- in both traditional rugby 15s and in sevens. We all know that Australia won the inaugural women's sevens rugby gold medal at the Rio Olympics. (Your correspondent was there. Relive the delirious and slightly incoherent excitement here.)

Now sevens rugby is getting serious. The inaugural Aon Women's University Sevens Series launched this very Wednesday. The five-week tournament is the first big step toward having a longer-lasting elite-level domestic women's sevens series.

Meanwhile participation in rugby sevens and rugby 15s among all female participants -- girls and women -- has risen 33 percent since Rio. Women are pretty much the only ongoing good news story in one of Australia's favourite sports -- a sport which for so long has been considered my most people a blokey pursuit.

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