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Aussie great calls time on ‘extraordinary’ career

Australian rugby great Liz Patu has retired from the Wallaroos after a record-breaking career.

Patu, 33, was born in New Zealand and raised in Samoa before moving to Australia in 2004.

With 33 Tests to her name, the prop retires as the most capped player in Wallaroos history.

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“My decision to retire has come from a variety of factors, but ultimately, I’d like to take time for myself and my mental health,” Patu said.

“I’m so grateful to the friends, family and coaches that have supported me throughout my rugby career. It means the world to me, as a player of Pacific Islander descent, to be able to finish my Wallaroos career as the most capped player and honor those who have gone before me.

“I hope to continue my involvement with rugby through pursuing coaching opportunities and playing Super W.”

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Patu – who debuted for Australia against New Zealand in 2014 – will play for the Queensland Reds in 2023.

She was named Wallaroos captain in 2018 but lost the role after a biting scandal in 2019.

Patu was given a six week ban for biting Wallaroos teammate Rebecca Clough in a Super W match but showed remorse and fought her way back into the national team.

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“Liz’s resilience in the face of adversity has been extraordinary, and she has been a pillar of support for the younger players in the Wallaroos squad,” Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos said.

“Liz leaves as our most capped, and one of our greatest Wallaroos – her determination is second to none and her recent performance across the World Cup in New Zealand was extraordinary.”

Patu’s retirement on Thursday follows that of teammate Iliseva Batibasaga on Wednesday.

“The strides that women’s rugby has made, and that it will make it the coming years are due in no small part to Wallaroos legends like Liz Patu, Iliseva Batibasaga and those that have come before them,” Marinos said.

“I know that Liz’s decision will be felt by Wallaroos coaching staff and players alike, and we wish her all the best going forward.”

Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning also paid tribute in an RA statement.

“I consider it a great privilege to have been present for both Liz’s first and last Test matches,” Tregonning said.

“Back in 2013, Liz commanded the field as a dominant No.8 for Queensland at the national championships, and as part of my role as a forwards coach, we discussed a potential positional change to the front row.

“Her dedication to improvement and great desire to be a Wallaroo earned her a debut in 2014. Now, leaving the program as the most capped Wallaroo of all time, Liz’s accomplishments are testament to her work ethic and leadership skills.

“It is my hope that Liz continues to contribute to the development of Queensland’s rugby programs and passes on her experience to the up-and-coming rugby stars of the future.”

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