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Greenshields earns rugby Player of the Year nomination

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Troy Shantz

Sarnia’s Julia Greenshields is in the running to become Rugby Canada’s Player of the Year.

“I woke from a nap and saw a text message saying ‘congratulations on the nomination,’ and I was like, ‘is this a joke?’” asked the former Sarnia Saint.

“How I got nominated, I’m not entirely sure.”

Greenshields, now based in Victoria, plays rugby sevens, the hot, new version of the sport in which teams comprised of seven players compete on a regulation field over two, seven-minute halves.

The 5-foot-5 and 137-pound athlete is one of four nominees for the honour. The announcement came after Greenshields was named to the ‘Dream Team at the series opening tournament on Dec. 1-2 in Dubai – where she was second-highest scorer.

Greenshields, who attended St. Clair Secondary, said she had a slow start last season but found her stride by the midway point.

“I think I just gained a lot more confidence, and I really found my groove, and things picked up for me.”

Her big break came while playing for the Western University Mustangs, when she was carded as a full-time player by Rugby Canada.

She moved to Victoria in 2012 as the youngest member of the Canadian team, to train at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence.

The 25-year-old now travels the world for tournaments but continues to return to her old stomping ground to coach. Her expertise at rugby sevens makes her in high demand.

Greenshields is back home for a week over Christmas, before the HSBC Rugby Sevens series resumes with a tournament in Queensland, Australia in January.

She said 2018 will be a big year for the women’s squad, which has appointments at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April and the Rugby Sevens World Cup in June.

The team also has a new $8-million training facility that opened recently in Langford, B.C.

It features a 650-square-metre gymnasium, recovery and stretching rooms, and the Rugby Canada Hall of Fame.

“It’s top of the line. It’s amazing,” she said.

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