NARRAWALLEE rugby prodigy Grace Sullivan had long been pegged for great success on the footy field.
From dominating rugby league with the Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs and Ulladulla High School to shining on the union field with NSW Country, Illawarra, Kiama, Bowral and the ACT Brumbies juniors, Sullivan turned the heads of many during her time on the South Coast.
Most importantly, she caught the attention of the Brumbies Super W coach Adam Butt, which led to the 17-year-old making her debut in round one of the 2020 season against Rugby WA.
"Being told I'd made the 23-person squad and making my debut as a 17-year-old was a really big achievement for me, as I had been working really hard to get there," Sullivan said.
The flanker was so impressive during her debut she went on to play three more times for Butt's side.
"I loved my first season [with the Brumbies]," Sullivan said.
"I had a great time and learned so much from the experience.
"It was everything and more than I expected - just being able to have the older girls and the great coaching staff help guide me through the season and teach me new things was amazing.
"In particular, Harriet Elleman (a Bomaderry product) really took me under her wing and made sure I was okay and helped me with a lot."
Unfortunately for Sullivan and her Super W franchise, their season was cut short, just days prior to their semi-final clash with the Queensland Reds.
"It was disappointing to have our season end the way it did, although totally understandable given the circumstances going on in the world," she said.
"This will definitely be a driving force for me and the whole team going into next season."
The lockdown has seen Sullivan return home to Ulladulla, where she has been working hard to maintain her fitness.
"During this break, I've been doing a lot of my own fitness and strength work, based on a home program the Brumbies sent me - to put myself in the best position to succeed when we do return to the field," she said.
"On top of that, I really want to work on my line-outs this off-season - although they've come along way the past 12 months, there's still a bit of work to do.
"I also want to improve my confidence - I tend not to believe in myself enough but being a part of this team has really helped with that.
"While it's been a little hard to stay motivated because I'm not necessarily training for anything right now, my love for the outdoors and keeping active has made it easier to get all the necessary work done."
Sullivan is expected to head back to the nation's capital later this month, to resume training with the Brumbies, as well as her Canberra-based rugby club, The Royals.
"With everything going on with coronavirus right now, a lot of our rugby is up in the air but we are hopeful on getting some action in soon," she said.
"Regardless, I'll keep training hard ahead of the Brumbies pre-season, which will start later in the year.
"Now I've gotten a taste of the Super W competition, I want to secure some more caps but also earn more playing time, to show what I'm capable of on the field.
"If I continue to work hard, I'm confident I'll get my chance - I'm really excited to see what the future holds."