Rugby Union: Medowie Marauders captain Kiara Shelton selected for 2022 Hunter Wildfires Jack Scott Cup squad

Kiara Shelton has been locked in for a second season with the Hunter Wildfires, an experience she will use to help grow the game in her hometown of Medowie.

The 23-year-old was this month named in the Wildfires' 2022 Jack Scott Cup squad, a commitment that Shelton is eager to take on after enjoying the experience and knowledge of the game that she gained playing with the representative team in 2021.

"I am excited for next season. I am looking forward to still learning more," Shelton said. "We were on a good roll this year winning games and I hope that we can continue that going into next year.

"I hope we can progress further in the competition. Our goal as a team is to compete at the level the more established Sydney teams compete at. We want to match them and beat them."

Shelton, who played junior rugby league with the Mallabula Panthers, made the code switch three years ago.

She helped start the Medowie and Districts Rugby Union Club women's team, of which she captain, with friend and fellow teammate Taylor Rich.

Shelton was tapped on the shoulder by Wildfires coach Brooke Saunders to trial for the rep team after seeing her play for the Marauders.

The centre and fly-half made her debut for the Hunter in a trial game against Gordon in March. She was then selected to play four games during the 2021 Jack Scott Cup season.

"It was next level," Shelton said of the experience.

"We have so much talent in the Hunter, between the young girls and the more experienced women in the team, some of which have gone on even further to play Super Rugby. I really enjoyed learning from the team and the coaches this year. The guidance and support I received has been more than what I expected.

"Next season I am really looking forward to pushing myself to being better, more self development and increasing the awareness of grassroots rugby in the Hunter and to add more competition for women."

Shelton, who is a mother to two children aged 5 and 3, will split her time between Marauders and Wildfires duties on top of work and study.

While "hard to juggle", Shelton said it was a commitment she was happy to take on as it helped developed the game at the grassroots level.

"I've learned a lot from the Wildfires already and I take what I've learned and bring it back to the Marauders," she said.

"I know I have younger girls from Medowie looking up to me. Just knowing that I am make a difference, whether it's in my own team or the younger generation coming up, is rewarding. The hard work will be worth it.

"If I can encourage anyone to try out of rugby, I'll be happy."

Marauders pre-season training will begin in November before an anticipated April start to the Hunter Rugby season.

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