Madison Schuck’s rugby dreams have always been shadowed by one frustrating problem – everyone who watched her play saw something different.
On Friday night they’ll all be seeing the same thing: a Wallaroo and the Bond Bull Sharks’ first ever representative in an Australian 15s side.
The Bull Sharks captain has been named to make her Wallaroos debut against Fijiana at Suncorp Stadium having finally shattered and then recreated the mould of the modern-day front rower.
Schuck (pictured) is a Gold Coast paramedic and resilience is encoded into her DNA.
However, it was only three years ago that she was on the verge of chucking it all away following her sixth rejection by the Queensland Reds.
Her career began as an outside back where she broke try scoring records in premier rugby. She was used as a half back in 7s and plays hooker for the Reds.
The 30-year-old was never quite what the talent scouts were looking for. Some felt she was too small, others were looking for more versatility.
A major headscratcher came when one scout told her they were after someone more specialised, in one devastating sentence rendering obsolete the advice she had built her game around.
“It was a very, very long journey. I have had to constantly fight and scrap to change someone’s way of thinking,’’ she said.
“So many times I was ready to quit but there was always a voice telling me to suck it up and keep trying.’’
That final voice belonged to Bond Bull Sharks Rugby 7s coach Setu Naseri.
Schuck had joined Bond to play AON 7s and when the club entered Queensland’s rugby premier league in 2020 she decided to continue her 15-a-side career with the Bull Sharks.
When that inaugural squad assembled it was discovered there weren’t any girls considered big enough to play prop.
Where else would the coaches look than rugby’s version of Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, the girl who could play every instrument in the band?
In her first outing she locked horns with a Wallaroo prop and when the final siren sounded on dominant performance by the Bull Shark pack, her path to international honours had been set.
“When I got to Bond I was done with rugby and I thought Queensland rugby was done with me,’’ she said.
“But Setu pulled me aside and urged me to have one last crack.
“He saw something in me and convinced me I could make it as a front rower. It was the move to Bond that finally gave me the chance that I had been dreaming of since I was a teenager.’’
Bond Director of Rugby Luca Liussi said Schuck may have fallen into the front row position as a last resort, but her performances where now ushering in a new era of women’s rugby.
“Madi is what I call a modern-day prop. She’s not a big girl but she’s very strong and understands the scrum well,’’ she said.
“She’s probably been overlooked in the past because of her size but what she hasn’t got in size she makes up for in other areas.
“She is dynamic with her ball carries and the work she does around the field, so she has got a real point of difference in the new era of rugby.’’
Liussi said the selection of Schuck and Mel Wilks in the Wallaroos squad for this Tri Test series with Fijiana and Japan was a huge boost for the Bull Sharks.
“This is really exciting for our club,’’ he said.
“We play a very different style of rugby at Bond and that is quite an open and fast style of play and we hope that has been part of exposing these girls and their strengths for selecting with the Reds and the Wallaroos.’’