IT was the moment Bomaderry product Harriet Elleman had dreamed about ever since she started playing rugby union with the ACT Brumbies three years ago.
Coach Adam Butt told Elleman, in front of the whole squad, she would be making her run-on debut for the Brumbies in the 2020 Super W season opener against Rugby WA.
"I was told just before training on Wednesday night I'd be in the run-on side - I was absolutely ecstatic," Elleman said.
"But I had to compose myself and have a strong session on the field before I could call my mum and have a moment.
"This is something I've worked three years for - I am absolutely over the moon.
"In year one, I played in two games and only got about eight minutes of game time.
"Then last year, I was in the 23 every game and got a fair bit of time on the field.
"But now I get the chance to start and play big minutes - all the hard work has finally paid off."
Making the Nowra High School alumna's feat even more special is her interrupted pre-season.
"The Brumbies held an open trial at the end of October, with more than 150 women from all over the country attending - showing how many people want to be a part of this wonderful competition and sport," she said.
"The squad was then cut to 50 players but just after that, my hand was trodden on at training, resulting in a spiral fracture in my right hand.
"It forced me to have surgery and put a metal plate and seven screws in my hand.
"But four days later - in a splint - I was back on the training track, doing as much fitness as I could."
Despite not being able to do contact work for eight weeks, Elleman - who travels two and a half hours from Wagga Wagga to Canberra to train three times a week - made the final squad on December 20.
"Although I had been in the team the past two years, I was really nervous before the team was selected, because of my injury," she said.
"But I obviously showed enough on the training track - through fitness and my ability to learn the playbook - to be selected.
"And then when I could train, the coaches have been really happy with my ability to run the ball, cleaning out of the rucks and my overall strength in the scrum."
All this was worth it, as the 26-year-old will start at hooker against Rugby WA at Canberra's GIO Stadium from Saturday 4:35pm (AWST).
"Having the opportunity to wear a run-on jersey will be special, especially in front of plenty of my friends and family, who will all be attending the game," said Elleman, who can also play flanker and prop.
"The support I've received has been amazing and I can't wait to do everyone proud."
Saturday is just the first step for Elleman's Brumbies and their grand final goal.
"All the girls are determined to go one better than last year and make that decider," she said.
"It's the third year for a lot of the squad and we know what it takes to succeed in this competition, especially from a defensive perspective - sticking our tackles as been a huge point of emphasis during the pre-season.
"We don't want to be labelled as nice or the underdogs anymore.
"If we keep our shape and play the physical style I know we are capable of, I know we can compete with anyone in this competition."
Elleman is one of two Shoalhaven products named in the Brumbies' 23-player squad, with Narrawallee's Grace Sullivan named to start on the bench in jersey number 19.
Sullivan, a former Milton-Ulladulla Bulldog, is one of 11 debutants named in Adam Butt's squad - joining the likes of Krystal Fyfe, Rebecca Smyth, Zali Waihape-Andrews, Ella Ryan, Pesi Palu, Gabrielle Petersen, Iris Verebalavu, Pearl Rakete, Phoebe Loughhead and Ainsley Scrivener.