CommBank Matildas debuts for talented trio

The Commonwealth Bank Matildas welcomed caps 213, 214 and 215 as three players made their international debuts against the Republic of Ireland.

The quest to expand the player pool has seen seven players play their first game for Australia in 2021 and now Angie Beard, Clare Wheeler and Charli Grant can add themselves to that cohort.

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For Beard, one of a number of defenders in the squad, it was a special moment.

“I feel fantastic. I mean, obviously, it was already an important game with Sammy making her 100th cap and two other girls as well Charlotte Grant and my teammate, Clare Wheeler making her debut as well. It's a very special night for us all," she said.

“Unfortunately, we couldn't get the result that we really wanted, but it's great to see new players on the field and just working as a team together to try and gel and get that final product right.”

The 24-year-old didn’t expect to debut and was ready to support the team from the sidelines, but once she and Grant were given their warm-up orders, things started to become real.

“I think that's when it finally kind of sunk in that we're getting on the field and just running up together and sharing this experience together. It's unreal.”

When assessing her performance, the Fortuna Hjørring defender did the best she could.

“I tried to be loud. I tried to bring the energy up because the least you can do is communicate with your teammates, so I just really tried to bring that energy, with my voice and obviously with my actions.”

Head Coach Tony Gustavsson noticed that energy and intensity when she took to the field.

“If you look at a player like Angie for example, what I'm happy with around her performance is that she comes in and she plays very brave both with the ball and without the ball,” he told media post-game.

“She's been like that in training as well. She's been communicating, she's been loud, she's been understanding the tactics.

"We know she has a good left foot when she's explosive but the fact that she's also brave in this environment and doesn't shy away, pleases me.”

Beard entered the field with Grant who has been involved in Talent ID camps, the June camp in Sweden, and went to Tokyo as well. Finally, she was given some minutes on the pitch.

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“Words can't describe how I feel, this is just such a dream come true.

"It's something I've always dreamt of since I was a young girl. I was disappointed we couldn't get the result especially for Sam's 100th cap, but it was an absolute honour to step on the pitch and wear this jersey,” Grant said.

“Coming into this game, I wasn't sure whether I'd make my debut or not, but I always prepare as if I'm going to play and I was very excited when they told me I was coming on, but I also wanted to stay calm and composed and give my best to the team to try and help them get the win.”

Grant hopes that this is the beginning of her growth as a Commonwealth Bank Matilda.

“I think there's still lots of improvements for me to make. I'm happy with my work ethic and I felt like I gave a lot of energy when I came on, but I still have lots of things to work on and hopefully I can have more opportunities to do so in the future.”

While Grant has been around camp for months now, Wheeler was a late inclusion into the squad and was an injury replacement for Chloe Logarzo in the second half. Her debut was a pleasant surprise.

“I got called in late as an injury sub and I just came in wanting to do my best and show Tony what I can do and just get amongst it being my first Matildas camp and to get my debut is amazing. I'll continue to strive to keep playing and keep getting minutes hopefully.

“I'm really happy just to get on the park. I think being a debut, they're always chaotic, you're nervous and I'm just happy that I got some touches. I really would have liked a win but to get the debut at the end of the day is amazing.”