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Australian Steelers win world cup.

Ella Sabljak
Ella Sabljak

A trio of Bondies now have their eyes firmly fixed on the 2024 Paralympics after the Australian Steelers’ remarkable victory at the International Wheelchair Rugby Cup in Paris. 

The Wheelchair World Cup served as a Paralympic test event. 

Featured in the Steelers’ world cup side were Bondies Ella Sabljak, Brayden Foxley-Conolly and Michael Ozanne.

Despite falling victim to Canada earlier in the event, the Aussies delivered a masterful performance in Monday’s final to defeat the Canucks 53-48.

The Canadians found faced an uphill struggle right from the get-go after they lost possession during their first offensive drive. 

The Steelers swiftly capitalised on the turnover by scoring a try, a lead they never relinquished. 

Australia’s head coach Brad Dubberly could barely contain his excitement after the match. He commended the entire squad for their outstanding performances throughout the week. 

"International Wheelchair Rugby Cup champions, that has a nice ring to it," he said.

Dubberly attributed the victory to the collective efforts of athletes, coaching staff, management, and the dedicated support staff, emphasizing that it was a team achievement for their program. 

“It’s almost exactly a year ago since we won the World Championship,” Dubberly said. 

“To come to this tournament a year later, test ourselves again against the world’s eight best teams and come away with the win is massive."

Throughout the tournament the team claimed impressive victories over the reigning Paralympic champions, Great Britain, and world championship semi-finalists, Denmark. 

The team's journey to the final included a tenacious 52-48 win over Asia Oceania champions Japan in the semi-final, ending a four-year losing streak against their arch-rivals. 

“I’m super proud of this team,” Dubberly said. 

“It’s been an awesome campaign in lots of ways. Not just the results, but the way we have been able to put some good minutes [on court] into the players. We just continue to grow and build.” 

The group’s next major assignment is the Paris 2024 qualification tournament in New Zealand between 18 and 22 March.

“We’ve got some other players back home who will come into this team before the Paralympics so there are a lot of positives for us as we look towards next year.”

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