WHEN NSW Country produced a comeback victory against the Sydney Rays they did so with a collection of in-form Central West talents.
Claudia McLaren was slated to be there but missed the recent clash due to her AON Uni 7s commitments.
Now she gets her chance to help the Country women sting the rays for a second time this Sunday.
Fellow Bathurst Bulldogs players Mandy Scott, Marita Shoulders and Mel Waterford plus CSU's Claire Woolmington were all part of the previous 18-17 success at Concord Oval.
Over the same weekend McLaren was helping Sydney University to a fourth place finish in the Queensland University round of the AON 7s.
The Bathurst player enjoyed the experience but is looking forward to donning the gold of the Country Eagles.
The game against the Rays is not a bad fallback game for McLaren who missed out on a place in the last round of the sevens tournament this weekend.
“I’m pretty keen to meet everyone. I’m going into it a bit blind but I’m very excited to give it a crack,” she said.
“Playing with people you know makes you more comfortable going in and can help you play more confidently because you’re aware of how they play.”
McLaren will be hopeful of bringing some of her sevens experience into the game.
Her University of Sydney side once again came up just short of a top three finish, losing the bronze medal playoff 24-12 to Macquarie University.
McLaren’s Bathurst teammate Jakiya Whitfeld was critical in getting Sydney that far, scoring eight of their 17 tries across the round.
“I missed out on a spot in the Gold Coast [AON 7s] tournament but that means I get to play for Country so that was a bit of a win-win for me,” McLaren laughed.
“I only started playing since March and April so it’s been quite a crazy experience.”
The other tournament which filled up McLaren’s rugby-mad schedule in recent times was her division one sevens campaign at UniSport Australia.
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Her Charles Sturt University teams blitzed through the pool stage and carried an unbeaten record into the grand final.
Unofrtunately they had to settle for silver after going down to Griffith University – the same side who took out the University of Queensland AON 7s round.
“It was unfortunate to miss out on the gold but it was still an awesome effort because we were playing Sydney and Brisbane teams,” McLaren said.
“Griffith got away in that second half. Fatigue had set in by that point.
“The Griffith team had a couple of players from the AON tournament and they’ve got that extra bit of training and experience.
“The whole team were awesome and really got around each other. It was really fun.”
The Country Corellas and the Rays play at Camden Rugby Club this Sunday.