Helensburgh's Maddie set to roar in Test debut

Helensburgh Tigerlillies halfback Maddie Studdon is confident an ankle injury won't deny her a maiden Jillaroos jersey after being named to make her Test debut this week.

Studdon was one of six debutants named in coach Steve Folkes' squad for the November 9 Test against New Zealand at WIN Stadium that will act as a curtain-raiser to the Four Nations clash between Australia and Samoa.

Studdon hasn't played since breaking her ankle in the final round of the Illawarra league but is on pace to return in time for the match.

"It's great to be picked in the side and the camp was a great experience even though I couldn't train because of my ankle," Studdon said.

"I've started running again now though so hopefully I can be back by then. It feels good but there's still a bit of work to do to get it 100 per cent."

Studdon - who at 20, is the youngest member of the Jillaroos squad - will have to fill some big shoes at halfback following the retirement of the legendary Karen Murphy following the Jillaroos' World Cup win last year.

"I'll be filling some big boots there," Studdon said.

"She's a legend of the game and I look up to her so I'll be pretty nervous filling her spot but I'll do my best."

She'll partner Murphy's longtime foil Ali Brigginshaw in the halves against the Kiwi Ferns and despite her inexperience Studdon said she'll have no problem steering the team.

"It is a bit daunting, especially being the youngest in the team, but I'm used to it," Studdon said.

"I've always been a talker and an organiser and just a footy head so I'll just go out there and play footy. [Brigginshaw] and I played together in the All-Stars so I'm pretty happy to be there in the halves with her again."

Folkes named 12 survivors from the team that upset NZ at the World Cup last year including Helensburgh teammates Sam Hammond and Ruan Sims. NSW player of the year Kezie Apps was also named to make her debut bringing the Tigerlillies contingent to four.

Studdon will look to make the most of the club combinations against a Kiwi side still stinging from their first ever World Cup defeat.

"I've played with Sam Hammond for a while now and I love our combination," Studdon said.

"I know the lines she likes to run and she knows how I like to play. And it [2014] was Kezie's first year playing with us but it feels like I've played with her my whole career.

"Obviously I haven't played against New Zealand before but watching the games at the World Cup they're very rough. They're coming off a loss as well so they'll be coming after us."

This article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury on 24/10/2014




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