The rise of Mel Wilks (pictured) from ‘unknown’ to Wallaroos squad member has been meteoric.
Wilks and Bond Bull Sharks teammate Madison Schuck have been named in the Australian squad for next month’s two-Test series against Japan and Fiji.
The pair will join the 32-player squad at a training camp at Bond University next week and if selected in the upcoming Test matches will become the first Bull Sharks to play for the Walleroos.
Wilks owes her elevation to the Aussie squad to a moment of serendipity that plucked her from obscurity two years ago, changing the course of her life.
“She had never played rugby before when she came to us two years ago,” Bond University Women’s rugby head coach Setu Naseri explained.
“She had gone down to a local touch footy field in Caboolture and Rugby Australia were running an Indigenous 7s talent day on an adjacent field.
“She was doing some fitness training, and Australian Rugby Union official Jarred Hodges asked her to jump in on the session and immediately gave our rugby director a call and said, 'You need to have a look at this girl immediately'.
Wilks made the 100-minute commute to Bond to check out the Bull Sharks program and was instantly hooked.
Within 12 months she was playing for the Queensland Reds women’s team.
The former Australia youth touch football player had an insane work ethic and a hunger to learn.
“The thing we’ve grown to know about Mel is that she is very analytical,” Naseri said.
“She’ll spend hours on the phone discussing the game, just picking our brains around the game. She’s a student of the game. Always keen to learn and keen to be better, will challenge your ideas."
Wilks lets her actions on the field do the talking for her, but she admits it’s been amazing training with the Wallaroos this season having already taken part in one camp on the Gold Coast in January.
“I’m pretty new to the sport so it’s quite an achievement to be in the Wallaroos squad,’’ she said.
“I’m just trying to learn as much as I can, I’d be stoked to make the World Cup team.”
The Wallaroos will play Fiji at Suncorp Stadium on May 6 and then Japan four days later at The Canal.
Their first game of the World Cup is against New Zealand on October 8.