METEORIC RISE: Grafton Redmen rugby union player Lauren Linton has been named in the NSW Country Corellas representative side.
METEORIC RISE: Grafton Redmen rugby union player Lauren Linton has been named in the NSW Country Corellas representative side. Gary Nichols

Linton takes flight

RUGBY UNION: All it took was a simple Aussie barbecue to introduce Lauren Linton to rugby, and she hasn't looked back since.

The current Grafton Redmen women's star player has just been named in the NSW Country Corellas side after impressive performances at the recent Country Championships held in Tamworth.

Her meteoric rise in the sport was more than a stroke of luck; the talented 26-year-old forward only took up the game a few years ago and has excelled at the seven and now 15-a-side game.

"I got into rugby through my uni. The Marlins Club were hosting a barbecue and because I was a uni student they asked me to check it out and have a kick around with the women's side,” Linton recalled.

"I went and tried it out and after the second game I got scouted for the Aon UNE Series. So I made that and started going to training and fell in love with the sport.”

Playing for Central Coast at the Country Championships, Linton, a noted sevens player, had to make the daunting transition to the 15-a-side game.

"That was my first ever tournament playing 15s. I guess my background was playing seven-a-side which gave me my skills,” Linton said.

"Watching the Redmen first grade side play 15s every Saturday helped me understand what the game was all about.

"I really like playing sevens. In a sense there is a lot more space. But I now prefer playing 15-a-side. It's more structured and after my first game I was sold.”

With Far North Coast unable to field a women's side at the championships, Linton received a timely invitation to represent Central Coast. And by her own admission, being a bench-warmer during the tournament was fine with her.

"Far North Coast didn't have a side so I was invited to play with Central Coast,” Linton said.

"I was more than happy just to be a bench player and I actually opted to sit out the first part of every game. I ended up getting plenty of game time but it was still a bit of a shock when I was named in the Country side.”

Linton, who is the partner of Grafton Redmen player Ed McGrath, said his knowledge of rugby played a big part in her gaining selection with the Corellas.

"Ed has been fantastic and gave me plenty of tips on playing in the forwards. Hopefully I can now give him a few pointers starting with how to pass the ball,” Linton laughed.