As much of the 6,824-strong crowd swarmed the victorious home side at North Sydney Oval, the significance of the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s victory began to set in. For long-term fullback Sam Bremner, the moment was particularly special.
The all-new Holden Women’s State of Origin shield made its way around the historic venue, as did Bremner, embracing an experience which had previously eluded her.
Despite playing a key role in each of the state’s 2016 and 2017 Interstate Challenge victories, the Helensburgh Tigers custodian had failed to finish either game due to injury. On Friday night, Bremner starred – and, most importantly, saw the monumental win through to completion.
“I rarely get the opportunity to finish a game and so I’ve never been able to do a lap of honour before,” Bremner told NSWRL.com.au on the field. “I’m just loving this and I’m really stoked about how many people support our game.
“I’m really humbled by the amount of people we’ve been able to inspire and the amount of young girls we’ve been able to inspire by playing something that we absolutely love.”
Under the bright lights at North Sydney, it was a moment to savour for all in attendance – none moreso than the players who have worked tirelessly to become the childhood heroes that now spearhead the growth of the women’s game.
“I’m just trying to embrace everything, it’s a magnificent thing being out here and I’m really just trying to enjoy every moment,” Bremner said. “Already I’m thinking the game went too quick.
“It’s just amazing to have such a support system – I literally could not hear the people next to me on the field because of how supportive the crowd was, chanting out ‘New South Wales.’ I am so happy to be a part of this.”
The interstate clash – the first to be officially branded “Origin” – brought with it a number of firsts. As a standalone fixture, players were afforded ample time to complete their victory lap and engage with the crowd, while the maiden free-to-air broadcast of the game promoted the game to aspiring female players across the nation.
For Bremner, one fact about the game was certain: it was Origin.
“I remember watching the men’s Origin and being a part of the crowd chanting out ‘New South Wales’,” Bremner reflects. “It gives you goosebumps when you’re a part of that.
“When we were tired and a bit flogged on the field and that started happening in our game, that was the moment I thought ‘holy hell, I’m playing Origin right now.’
“It really lifted us.”
While a vocal audience lifted the players into action, the team has returned the favour, leaving a legacy which will be felt from grassroots Rugby League in years to come.