Iliseva Batibasaga retires from Wallaroos

Iliseva Batibasaga retires from Wallaroos

Wallaroos star Iliseva Batibasaga has today announced her decision to retire from the Wallaroos, capping off a near 20-year career that ultimately concluded at the recent Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Batibasaga is the longest tenured Wallaroo, having made her debut for Australia against South Africa at the 2006 Rugby World Cup in Canada.

As Wallaroo Number 87, the product of Norths Eagles in Brisbane has represented her country at scrum-half 26 times, remarkably scoring her first try in her penultimate match against Wales at the Rugby World Cup.

Despite retiring from international Rugby, Batibasaga will continue to ply her trade for the New South Wales Waratahs in this year’s Buildcorp Super W season.

Batibasaga’s decision to retire stemmed from a variety of factors, each one playing their part in a difficult decision.

“I originally planned to step down in 2021 – after the World Cup – but the pandemic foiled those timelines,” she explained.

“The World Cup was moved to 2022, and I had a choice to make: should I push for another year, or retire now?

“With the help of family, coaches, friends, a sports psychologist and some time away from rugby, I decided to give my all for one last year.”

The former Sevens player looked back fondly on her many years in the national program.

“I was only 21 years old when I first sang the national anthem as a Wallaroo – I think I made it through two words before I started crying,” she recalled.

“Being able to relive my experiences at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this year, and seeing the various stages of my career reflected in my teammates and their journeys has been so special.”

The Women’s game has evolved rapidly throughout Batibasaga’s career.

“I’ve been part of an exclusive group that has seen Women’s Rugby in Australia shift over the years,” she explained.

“We started out paying our own way to competitions and training camps, billeting with teammates, and only playing one or two Test matches a year.

“Now, we’re reimbursed for the time we take off work to attend camps, play Test matches and travel around representing Australia.

“This year, we played 10 Test matches, in preparation for the World Cup – that’s not a career milestone for me; it’s a milestone for Australian Women’s Rugby.”

For Iliseva, the future of Rugby is bright – changes are incoming, and a hard-won Quarter-Final appearance in the Rugby World Cup cemented her belief in the future of the program.

“The Wallaroos are in need of a fully-funded professional program – it won’t happen overnight, but even a step toward a genuine commitment to our cause will see the Wallaroos become more successful.”

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos was effusive in his praise of Batibasaga’s contribution to Australian Rugby.

“Iliseva has created an inimitable legacy for future generations of players – both on and off the field, said CEO of Rugby Australia, Andy Marinos.

“Her kindness, gentle spirit and true passion for the game have culminated in an impressive career – she has played an important role in leaving the Wallaroos jersey better off than when she started.

“Her departure will be felt keenly by current Wallaroos players, who have looked to Ili as a leader, mentor and friend for many years.

“We here at Rugby Australia congratulate Ili. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours, and hope for her continued involvement within rugby for years to come.”

Though success is the most popular benchmark in the world of professional sport, Wallaroos Head Coach Jay Tregonning, believes that a player’s conduct is an equally important measure.

“People see ‘professional Rugby players’ as people who are paid a full-time wage to play the game we all love,” said Tregonning.

“To me, a ‘professional’ is someone who leaves no stone unturned in their search to improve their on-field and off-field skills, who goes about their work with integrity, humility, and calmness, making the people around them better in the process.

“Ili epitomises professionalism – she was an outstanding leader for the team throughout 2022 and has redefined what it means to be a Wallaroo.

“Although she will be greatly missed, Ili has set the standard for continual improvement and future success – our up-and-coming players owe her a great debt.”

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