It was mid last decade when Zach Hatch saw Abby Schmiedel "coming" for him at a pub.
She had taken the initiative - made the first move, he said, after they had met through footy: him rugby league and her league tag.
Almost six years after they became a couple, Hatch was at David Taylor Oval at Werris Creek on Saturday nursing their two-year-old firstborn, Charlie, as Schmiedel steered the Roosters to a 48-4 win over the Magpies in a league tag trial.
The couple have another child, one-year-old Ruby.
"We always said that we wanted kids young, so we could grow up with them, playing sport with them, getting to do that sort of stuff with them," Schmiedel said.
The experience is "crazy", she continued. "But I love it; we both love it. It keeps us busy. But they're beautiful kids. We're very proud of them."
"I'm very happy with life at the moment," she added.
Schmiedel - the daughter of Gunnedah Bulldogs coach Mick Schmiedel and the sister of Bears enforcer Josh and Group 4 referee Ryan - is co-coach of the Roosters' league tag side.
Long known as one of Group 4's premier talents, the 24-year-old is in the infancy of her debut coaching stint.
She was pregnant with Ruby when Kooty were knocked out of the 2019 final series. She did not play.
The mother of two aims to lead the Roosters to the title this year, and then give rugby league a go - making the Greater Northern Tigers side the goal.
"I think that's what I'll focus on next year," she said, adding: "I've just got to learn a couple of different tackling techniques, but I feel like I'll adjust to the game all right."
Hatch, 24, was 18 when he debuted in first grade at Wests Lions. He joined the Roosters from Dungowan in 2019, the same year Schmiedel signed with the club. His younger brother, Liam, also lobbed in Kootingal in 2019.
But while Liam played for the Roosters in their 38-24 trial defeat of the Magpies on Saturday, Hatch watched from the grandstand.
He broke his wrist this year and it is still in a cast. The injury came hot on the heels of him having elbow surgery.
A self-employed farrier, he has missed a lot of work of late. With two children to support and a mortgage to pay, that is problematic. (The couple own a home in Oxley Vale.)
"I reckon I'll still play," he said of lacing up for Kooty this year. "But I don't know how committed I'll be just yet."
Hatch has kept working as a horse trainer, but regards that as a "hobby". He won his first race in 2015 and now has 23 career wins, for almost $430,000 in prize money.
"He's a very good trainer," Schmiedel gushed.
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