As little as three years ago, the Goulburn Dirty Reds' women's team was just a dream.
Fast forward to 2020, and six members of the team have added another milestone to a rapidly growing list: selection in the ACT Brumbies Country side.
Paige Penning, Pearl Rakete, Sass Cudaj, Kelsey Betts, Bella Sheen, and Chloe Waddell were all recognised for their efforts during the recently-concluded winter season and selected ahead of next weekend's City vs Country of Origin clash.
Also included from Goulburn were all three coaching staff: Ash Mewburn, David Anable, and Megan Penning.
Goulburn's women are fresh from their first ACT Rugby Women's 15s campaign, where they reached a semi-final despite being the newest and physically smallest team in the competition.
To have so many Goulburn faces in the squad, Mewburn said, was another major step forward for women's rugby in town.
"Those six girls were outstanding throughout the whole season, so I'm glad they were noticed by Brumbies selectors," Mewburn said.
"To be honest, this is something I was aiming for with our country home-grown women. It's pleasing to see the growth we've had with these players, developing them to be representative players.
"These six women are becoming leaders, they're growing every game, learning, and giving back to the community as well."
The opportunity is not a one-off. Players who perform well during the clash have a chance to be selected for the Presidents XV team, which will play a series against a Sydney-based side later this year.
"This is a really good stepping stone into representative rugby, and a good opportunity to go on and play more rugby as well," Mewburn said.
Though a number of the women selected, including Cudaj, Penning, and Rakete, have played for the Brumbies in the past, this marks the first senior representative opportunity for a number of Goulburn's players.
It will be a particularly valuable experience, Mewburn said, for someone like Waddell, who has made a name for herself over the last 18 months as one of Goulburn's most talented teenagers.
"Chloe is a bit of an underrated weapon," she said. "She was put in an uncomfortable position this year, because she's used to playing in the centres, but then a few things changed and she moved to fullback this year and was absolutely phenomenal.
"She's going to be played on the wing in the country team, and she's playing against fully grown women with a lot of experience. I hope she will take a lot away from this opportunity and learn more about the game."
The game will take place on Saturday, October 31, at RMC in Canberra. Further details will be posted by the Brumbies once confirmed.