When the ACT Brumbies released their squad list for the 2021 Super W season, it came as no surprise to Ash Mewburn that Pearl Rakete's name was on the list.
This is the second consecutive year that Rakete has earned a call-up to Canberra's premier rugby side, having played in all four matches of the 2020 Super W campaign which was eventually curtailed by COVID-19.
Mewburn, herself a former Brumbies player and coach, currently co-coaches Rakete in the Goulburn Dirty Reds women's team.
"I'm not surprised at all," Mewburn said.
"Pearl deserves to be there, she's cemented her spot and she's one of the hardest-working players I know."
The Goulburn resident plays as a forward for the Dirty Reds, and will do the same for the Brumbies when their campaign begins on June 19.
Along with an imposing physical presence, Rakete brings "a bit of that X-factor" on to the field, Mewburn said.
"In defence, she will be on the ball straight away, she knows how to chop girls in half, she's one of the strongest women I know in the game," she said.
"In attack, she's aggressive, her balls skills are phenomenal, and she's just a powerhouse."
Rakete's potential was recognised early on by the Brumbies. When she was first selected in the squad, in late 2019, she was coming off a serious knee operation and had never played 15s before.
Now, nearly 18 months later and with a full season of 15s football with the Dirty Reds behind her, Mewburn said Rakete is a force to be reckoned with.
"When she came back to the club [after her Super W debut], she was just a wrecking ball," Mewburn said. "Now, with a whole year of 15s under her belt and having played in the Super W last year, she's just becoming bigger and better."
The only drawback to Rakete's selection, as far as Mewburn is concerned, is the void she will leave among Goulburn's forwards.
The Super W competition will run for four-weeks mid year, meaning she will miss a significant portion of the local season.
However, Mewburn knows that Rakete will come back far better for her time with the Brumbies.
"That's a big loss for us in the forwards, but that also gives other girls the opportunity to step into her big shoes while she's off representing Goulburn," Mewburn said.
"But we'll definitely miss her aggression, her power, and her balls skills on the field."
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