National coach welcomes explosive Rangers player back
HAVING lost key players at the wrong stage of the season, Ipswich Rangers women's coach Niccy Muller and her rugby team has received a timely boost.
That is the return of Central Queensland miner Courtney Robinson for Rangers' preliminary final next weekend.
A depleted Rangers combination was unable to secure a direct passage to this year's grand final after losing 36-0 to main rivals Redlands at Woodend Park on Saturday.
After a terrific development season, Rangers were left short-staffed for a testing encounter.
"We were without four key players so we had to do a lot of shifting around position wise and that became a bit of a confusing state for some of our players that never played those positions before,'' Muller said.
"That really affected us yesterday.
"It wasn't our best game. It was probably one of our worst actually.''
However, having rugby league convert star Robinson returning gives the team a massive injection of confidence having a second chance to qualify for the grand final.
"She'd be leading the try scoring points for the whole Div 2,'' Muller said.
"She's a new miner so she's always away on weekends.
"It's a good inclusion to have Courtney back because Courtney is that captain, that leader.
"She settles everyone down. Things fall into place when she's there.
"She's a great talker as well as a great athlete.
"She has that explosion speed.''
Rangers play Logan in Saturday's preliminary final at Everton Park.
The Ipswich side could again be without some regulars due to some players involved in the Norths Ipswich Open rugby league team.
Second rower Aria Albury is another regular unavailable to play Logan having commitments in the police carnival the same weekend.
"She's a beginner of union but offers a lot of speed and ball skill for a forward,'' Muller said.
As the National Indigenous Rugby 7's coach and QSRU representative mentor, Muller understands players committing to more than an one sport.
"It's a little bit of a worry,'' she said.
"I'm a big supporter of women pursuing other sports.
"If they can do them both, I support that.''
However, that doesn't make it any easier for Rangers chasing a spot in the grand final.
Number 10 Natalie Gala and forward Latoya Geebung were also being monitored with injuries.
Preparing for the preliminary final, the Rangers women had enjoyed a tremendous season under Muller's valuable guidance.
In her first year at the club, Muller said Rangers had progressed from not winning a game and conceding massive scorelines last season to being title contenders.
"Our girls have played the season undefeated until the last round game that saw heavyweights Redlands beat us in for and against in the final round game,'' Muller said.
Redlands inflicted a second defeat in the latest final.
"The season started slow with less than 10 girls to gradually filling a team of 16 for our 12s comp,'' she said.
But as the Rangers players improved dramatically, recent injury and player unavailability has hurt their title hopes.
The Rangers team has a young backline boasting former Aussie 7s World Youth gold medallist Caitlin Moran and fellow Aussie 7s U18 player Rhiannon Blair.
Ipswich talent Hope Hintons and Robinson have added some extra class.
Robinson and Gala have been captaining the side this season.
Muller was keen to retain as strong a side as possible for the next final.
"We'll be concentrating heavily on what we did wrong yesterday at training this week,'' she said.
After focusing on Rangers final shot at glory, Muller will continue her work as a state and national coach.
She's been national coach for four years.
Due to COVID, a number of regular tournaments were unable to be played this year.
However, the dedicated Rangers coach is keen to resume that role as future opportunities open up.