On a hot Saturday afternoon at Ken Chillingworth Oval, Lana Boxsell played rugby league for the third time in her life. It was an experience she described as "empowering".
The 36-year-old Gunnedah Bulldog views herself, and the other players who participated in the CRL's fledgling women's nines tackle competition in Tamworth, as trailblazers.
The Cowboys fan believes that women playing rugby league "breaks the stigma that it's all about the males playing". "So it's good to see the women coming out and having a go," she said.
"It's building on our self-confidence and empowering women to have a go and teach our younger girls, the next generation coming up."
Watching Boxsell from the sidelines on Saturday was her daughter, Angel Phillips, 13. Angel said "maybe" when asked if she wants to follow her mother's lead and lace up.
"Yeah, she's good," the teen said of her mum's footy ability. "It's good to watch."
Boxsell grew up in Toowoomba watching her brothers play rugby league, and "always wanted to have a go" herself. She said it was "either backyard footy for the rest of my life, or have a crack on the field".
"I've never played rugby league in my life, and I signed up this season. So I thought I'd have a go and be a role model for the girls - the younger generation," she said.
The experience has "totally" lived up to her expectations.
For her, however, the impact of playing nines the past three Saturdays (the competition has now concluded) was more profound than absorbing the tremors of a collision sport she has long been fascinated by; of being hit hard, getting up and being hit again. She found it to be cathartic.
"It's been great being part of a team," she said. "You know, it brings your spirits up when you're down. So it's a good outlet for some of us who are out there struggling."
Now that Boxsell has tasted rugby league, she plans to be back for a second serving next season - when she will be 37 and, she says, fitter. "The fitness part got me [this year]. But that's something I'll work towards next year."
"Definitely, definitely," she added, when asked if she would play again. "And there's a bunch of nice girls out there that we got to meet. So that's even more better."
On Saturday, Gunnedah drew 16-16 with Manilla. They finished the six-team competition in last place, with one draw and two losses.
Manilla came sixth, while undefeated Werris Creek - who beat fourth-placed Boggabri 30-12 on Saturday - finished on top of table.
Manilla came sixth, while undefeated Werris Creek - who beat fourth-placed Boggabri 30-12 on Saturday - were declared the joint-competition winners with undefeated Kootingal-Moonbi, who beat third-placed South West Robins 24-14 on Saturday.