The small steps that Jacqui Jones took when she began her oztag journey some four years ago has morphed into the high-performance gait of a world champion.
Jones, of Gunnedah, was a member of the gold medal-winning mixed seniors Australian team at the 2018 Tag World Cup in Coffs Harbour.
Australia dominated the tournament, winning 17 of the 21 gold medals on offer.
Jones described the Aussie mixed senior team’s 7-3 grand final win over New Zealand as “awesome – a really good experience”.
Probably for the first 15 minutes it was 0-0. And I think it was our fitness that got New Zealand in the end.
She said the side was confident of doing well ahead of the tournament and they remained undefeated over the three days, although they drew 7-7 with American Samoa last Friday ahead of Sunday’s final.
That confidence, she said, stemmed from a drawn five-match series Australia and the Kiwis played in New Zealand in March.
The Kiwis were considered Australia’s main rivals and were also undefeated heading into the final.
Jones said the final was “really hard”.
“Probably for the first 15 minutes its was 0-0,” she said.
“And I think it was our fitness that got New Zealand in the end.”
Jones, a winger, scored one try in the tournament – in a 22-2 victory over Niue, a small South Pacific island nation, on day one.
“I thought I went pretty well [in the tournament],” she said.
Two seasons ago, Jones was part of the women’s Northern NSW Bears over-27 oztag squad. She then made the switch to the Bears’ mixed senior side, and believes the side’s style of play contributed to her selection for Australia.
The World Cup, held every three years, attracted a slew of nations including the US, Great Britain, the Philippines and Thailand.