ULLADULLA might have country's next big rugby union star on its hands, after Lily Murdoch was recently named in the Australian schoolgirls merit squad.
This selection caps off a dramatic rise in the sport for Murdoch, who only started playing the sport three years ago with her Ulladulla High School team.
"I started playing rugby sevens three years ago for three school team, which Ulladulla High pulled together and we competed in the ACT Brumbies schools tournament," Murdoch said.
"It was just after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio where the Aussie girls won gold, so it was an awesome way to build up the sport in the community."
Since then, Murdoch, who has moved to Shellharbour in the past 18 months, hasn't looked back.
"Last year, I was in the NSW Waratahs sevens team where we competed in Brisbane and took out the tournament," she said.
"This is also where I got picked up for the Australian rugby sevens youth squad, where I have ongoing training in Sydney every week."
Despite all her success in the sevens arena, Murdoch has only tried her hand at the 15-a-side format in the past year, highlighted by her only playing two tournaments before she was selected for NSW Country, following the country tournament in Kempsey in May.
Following this selection, the NSW Country squad, which also featured Cambewarra's Aroha Spillane, had numerous training camps, to prepare Murdoch for her first 15-a-side nationals at Narrabeen.
"As this was my first nationals for 15-a-side rugby, I wasn't too sure what to expect," she said.
"We came out really strong in our first game against South Australia and put a fair few points on them, to win 29-nil."
Murdoch's team followed up this win against South Australia with 19-5 loss to the Melbourne Rebels.
"Following that, we played Melbourne who were extremely physical which was the deciding factor for the win.
"Next up, we had ACT Blue which wasn't our best game though we managed a 5-all draw."
Country then booked their spot in the decider thanks to a close 7-5 win against Brisbane in the semi-final, in what Murdoch described as her side's 'best performance of the tournament.'
This set a showdown in the decided with NSW City - which Murdoch unfortunately had to sit out due to a head knock.
"Unfortunately I was ruled out due a bit of a head knock, though had full faith in the girls to bring home the trophy," she said.
"The final wasn't our best game (losing 46-5), and was a bit of a rivalry having two NSW teams in the final."
After guiding her Country side to the final, the 17-year-old flyhalf was named in the Aussie squad.
"I wasn't expecting to get picked for the Australian merit team at all, as there was so many other awesome flyhalfs that could of easily got picked," she said.
"Although we don't get to play, it's still an honour to be selected.
"It's so rewarding being selected for this team, as it goes the show the endless hours in the gym and on the field are paying off.
"Being named in this team is right on par with me being named in the Australian sevens squad, as my career highlights."
Murdoch will now shift her focus back to the seven format.
"The AON sevens season is coming up and I will be playing for Canberra University, against all the other top universities open women's side from around Australia, across numerous weekends," she said.
"Following this, I'd love to make the Australian sevens schoolgirls side at the end of the year as well as sitting my HSC this year - it is such a busy time.
"In saying that, it's all so exciting and I'm so grateful for the opportunities I have been given."