LAST season she was chasing the round ball as part of the CSU soccer club, but in 2022 Anna French is deploying her speed as a major offensive weapon for CSU Mitchell Rugby.
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On Saturday French's speed helped her to pick up a pair of tries in wet conditions as CSU crushed the Wellington Redbacks 59-7 in their North Cup clash.
Her presence has added another strike weapon to a back line which already includes the likes of prolific try-scorer and captain Maddie Reilly plus Chiara Major.
"That's the good thing about the turnover at uni, you always discover new people. Anna is second or third year at uni and was playing soccer, but she's come over to us now," CSU coach Marcus Burrell said
"It's been really good for us to have her.
"Anna floats on the wing a fair bit of the time, because she's so fast she gets around them. The ball playing skills of Maddie and Chi especially and Liana [Wheatley] when she's in there as well at 10, when hands get the ball to the wing no-one can really catch her."
Having French, who Burrell has labelled as 'a speed machine', on the edge has given CSU a focus for its attack this season.
The coach admits it has taken time for his new-look squad to adjust and execute, but piling on nine tries in the tricky conditions at Wellington on Saturday shows CSU is now clicking.
"What we're trying to do is play to the wings, we've got probably the fastest team in the comp, so playing wide is something I've really tried to get into the girls and they did it," Burrell said.
"Stats wise they only had a couple of dropped balls in the wet and a couple of missed tackles, so all the hard work they're doing is paying off.
"I think a lot of it has come down to confidence with the girls, a lot of them didn't have it at the start of the year. I think the best way to get confidence in rugby is to play rugby because it is such a technical sport and now they're coming together."
While the effort against Wellington was CSU's biggest points haul of the season thus far, Burrell was just as pleased with what his side did in defence.
The hosts' only points came via a penalty try.
"They've really worked on their defensive effort in the last few weeks," Burrell said.
"It was all well and good Mudgee putting a bit of a score on them, but they've worked on that and on Saturday they turned defence into attack, it really worked for them."
Burrell has been pleased with the way that both his experienced core has performed and how the new faces in the squad have improved.
It is making competition for spots in the 10-player starting line-up very hot.
"We've got our stalwarts who have been around for a few years and give us go forward in every area, but there are a few new girls who are really stepping up," the coach said.
"In the forwards Georgia Skidmore and Elkie Bennett have really stepped up and provided the go forward and in the backs Scarlet Terrigal, she's new this year and her confidence and performance is great.
"On the weekend she was rewarded with a spot in the starting side. We're playing Scarlett just outside Maddie and Chi in the centres there. She's got decent hands on her as well, she can read a game and can makes decent tackles."
Saturday's effort sees second-placed CSU now holding an 18-point buffer over third-placed Wellington, but it is the Mudgee Wombats who still lead the race towards the minor premiership.
The Wombats have defeated CSU twice this season - 43-7 and 38-26 - and this coming Saturday the pair will square off again.
It's a top-of-the-table contest Burrell is eagerly anticipating.
"If we can shut Mudgee down, I think we can get every team, I'm confident in that as a coach. If we can get our best team on the paddock I think we can go far," he said.
"My reasoning behind that is Mudgee at the start of the year, they put 40 points on us but we scored close to 30 as well. So after that defence was the big thing I wanted and that's finally coming.
"So Mudgee this week, that will be the tester. There's a bit of rivalry there between us and Mudgee and to be honest, it's a healthy rivalry to have."
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