Saturday’s Greater Northern Championships will mark the beginning of a new era for females playing rugby league.
Women’s tackle teams from Groups 19, 21 and 4 will have the chance to impress on the representative stage at Tamworth’s Scully Park.
Country Rugby League have introduced women’s tackle into their Country Championships for the first time, and with the National Rugby League launching their own women’s competition last year, there are more pathways than ever before for females to pursue a career in the sport.
CRL’s women’s participation officer Kylie Hilder has played the sport as part of the Roosters WNRL team and will be present at Saturday’s championships.
Hilder is excited in the opportunities the Championships bring.
“They get through Saturday, they make the Greater Northern and then they are in that pathway as such,” she said.
“The doors are open for them, anything is possible and the way women’s rugby league is going, there is so much more that they can play and they can eventually make a career out of it.”
“My advice to the girls is to just get out there and give it your all, it is your first opportunity to play representative football and do what you know best.
“I am really excited, I can’t wait until Saturday to watch all the Groups run around.”
Hilder has traveled around the state and watched various nines tournaments and believes there is a lot of talent which is yet to be discovered.
“Some of the talent I have already seen is unbelievable and I have no doubt they are going to surprise a few of these city folk with the talent we have out in the country,” she said.
“The good thing is we have created these Country Champs, purely so that we are now giving an opportunity for every girl across NSW to now play representative football.
“Who knows, out of our Country Champs we could find our next Jillaroo and that is potentially what could happen.
“I know the NRL clubs are going to be keeping a close eye on our championships looking for that next star to come through as well.”
Women’s rugby league is the fastest growing area of the game.
Sydney have had their own competition for many years but now the expansion into regional areas means the the country girls can showcase their talent.
“We just get in and get what we have to do done, we don’t things for granted because we know we have limited opportunities whereas the city girls, it is all handed out on a platter in front of them all the time,” Hilder said.
“Country girls have to work hard to get what they want and that is why when they come into camps, country girls are the fittest.”
GROUP 4 BUSHRANGERS: 1 Alma Hunt, 2 Bec Lane, 3 Bec Smyth, 4 Billie-Jo Power, 5 Cassidy Carter, 6 Chantelle Lee, 7 Ebonee Ison, 8 Joan O’Leary, 9 Jodi Howarth, 10 Lauren Clarke, 11 Maria Monika, 12 Simone Lickorish, 13 Tara Williamson, 14 Tarniece Berry, 15 Tory Skuthorpe, 16 Yvonne Murphy, 17 Zoe Darlington. Coach – Adelaide Monika.
GROUP 19: 1 Taneika Landsborough (Guyra), 2 Nicole Robinson (Warialda), 3 Brooke O’Halloran (Uralla), 4 Alyce Walsh (Uralla), 5 Alisa Tunamena (Glen Innes), 6 Amy Barraclough (Uralla), 7 Robyn Broadbent (Uralla), 8 Simone Blacklock (Boomerangs), 9 Brooke Kingdom (Narwan), 10 Amelia Tunamena (Glen Innes), 11 Katelyn Smith (Uralla), 12 Skye Gordon-Briggs (Narwan), 13 Breana Grange (Glen Innes), 14 Vicki Youman (Uralla), 15 Sarah Byrne (Glen Innes), 16 Jessica Widders (Narwan), 17 Courtney Watts (Glen Innes), 18 Brittany Youman (Guyra), 19 Emily McMeniman (Glen Innes), 20 Amarlie Ahoy (Narwan). Coach – Kathryn McCulloch, Manager – Jessica Smith, FAO – Michael McFadyen.
GROUP 21: 1 Grace Gallen (Scone), 2 Samantha Elphick (Scone), 3 Kimberley Brown (Murrurundi), 4 Shai Blackadder (Merriwa), 5 Kelly Maslen (Merriwa), 6 Shae Pemberton (Muswellbrook), 7 Lucy Prudden (Murrurundi), 8 Gaynor Blackadder (Merriwa), 9 Tracey Saunders (Murrurundi), 10 Hannah Turkington (Murrurundi), 11 Sophie Hinde (Muswellbrook), 12 Brooke Davis (Greta Branxton), 13 Jessyca Morgan (Merriwa), 14 Taylah Blackadder (Merriwa), 15 Taylor Quinton-Wild (Greta Branxton), 16 Caitlin Albury (Greta Branxton), 17 Georgia Watts (Scone), 18 Jorjia Edwards (Aberdeen), 19 Jodie Holman (Murrurundi), 20 Grace Holman (Murrurundi). Coach – Matt Morgan, Managers – Fiona Morgan and Jane Walmsley, L1 Sports Trainer – Kim Beverstock, League Safe – Bruce Blackadder.
9am: Ladies Tackle – G4 v G21
10am: Men’s Under 23 – G4 v G21
11.05am: Ladies Tackle – G19 v G21
12.05pm: Mens U23 – G19 v G21
1.10pm Ladies Tackle – G4 v G19
2.10pm: Mens U23 – G4 v G19.
A full canteen available but it is an alcohol free day with no bar and no alcohol to be brought onto the ground. Admission: Adults $5, aged pensioners $3. All presentations and naming of Tiger representative teams will be held at Southgate Inn from about 4pm.