Liz Patu and Ivania Wong set to become Queensland's all time Women's cap leaders

Fri, Mar 29, 2024, 2:31 AM
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker

When you watch winger Ivania Wong playing for the Queensland Reds you still see the joy in her face that we all first felt when playing rugby as kids.

That salute from former Wallaroo Vanessa Bradley, the 2023 Queensland Rugby Union Hall of Fame inductee, is a worthy way to start honouring two record-breakers.

Wong and front-row stalwart Liz Patu will reach rarified air on Saturday as the leading cap-winners in the history of Queensland women’s rugby.

They will eclipse Hall of Famer Selena Worsley and Cheyenne Campbell, who both won 34 caps, when they hit 35 by facing the ACT Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium in Buildcorp Super Rugby Women’s.

Patu, 34, has accumulated her caps over a decade at the top in the women’s game, starting in an era when Queensland might play just four games a year. She is a rare triple treat for any coach because she can play loosehead prop, tighthead prop or hooker.

Wong’s record is remarkable because she has sprinted to 35 by playing every game played by the Reds since Super W began in 2018.

“Ivania gives absolutely everything she’s got each time she plays for the Reds. You see how passionate she is and she does it with a smile,” Bradley said.

“It always reminds me why we all first played the game. I love seeing that.

“She never just hangs out on the wing. She’s always looking for ways to involve herself.”

The freshest example came just last Saturday when the Reds’ scoring was stagnant for an hour against the Western Force until Wong exploded out of the backfield.

She stepped through the defensive line and put support Caitlin Urwin away. It was a 70m try that had the potential to change the game.

The Papua New Guinea-born Wong was named 2022 Super W Player of the Year, the same season she made her Wallaroos debut.

“Both Liz and Vani are real stalwarts of women’s rugby in Queensland. Their commitment week in, week out over such a long period has set a high standard,” Reds head coach Grant Anderson said.

“Vani has great footwork pre-contact and you see her break the first tackle so many times. She sees space naturally on the field.

“That try she set up against the Force was pretty indicative.

“Liz is a real competitor. She brings experience and physicality to everything she does. She has a great set piece and to play over 10 years in the front-row is a credit.”

As a former prop herself, Bradley knows everything that Patu has committed to rugby.

“To be able to play well in all three positions of the front-row is a rare feat. You also see her willing to share her knowledge with younger forwards which is passing her experiences onto the next generation,” Bradley said.

“I was delighted to present Liz with her Queensland honour cap in 2022 when we celebrated the women who have played rugby for Queensland since 1996.”

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