For Jillaroos star and St George Illawarra player Samantha Bremner and her husband Wayne, this Mother’s Day will be their last as a family of two.
Sunday is the 26-week mark in Bremner’s pregnancy. Baby Bremner is not too far away.
When baby Bremner arrives, it will arrive into a world markedly different to the one that mum Sammy grew up in.
Regardless of whether Sammy gives birth to a boy or girl, that child will grow up in a world where the norm will be that girls and boys have the chance to play rugby league.
It will grow up in a world where boys and girls can all aspire to represent a club, state and country as a rugby league player.
But even more special will the day that Sammy shares with her child her story as a trailblazer in the women’s game.
The reality is that the women’s game would not be where it is without Sammy. Back in 2010 when Sammy wanted to play footy, she started the Helensburgh Tiger Lilies and made her debut for that club in 2010.
That year she played alongside some friends of hers which she recruited, Kezie Apps and Maddie Studdon, names which will be familiar to all of us who love women’s footy.
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Sammy went on to win four consecutive premierships with the Tiger Lilies, a team which she is now coaching.
From then on, Sammy has been a major force in women’s rugby league and has represented (and co-captained) her state and her country and was also selected as part of the Dragons inaugural Women’s Rugby League Premiership team.
She has been nothing short of inspirational.
As Sammy gets closer to her due date, that’s one of the things she is most excited about.
“I can’t believe that I personally get to influence someone’s life,” she said.
“At the moment I see little boys and girls and I try to be a positive influence, but in a couple months’ time I will really get to shape a little life and teach them things, like how to be a good person’.
Earlier this year, the NRL announced its 19 elite women’s players for the 2019 season and Sammy was one of these players.
As women’s sport continues to grow, pregnancy and the support offered to women and their families during this time is an issue which will need further consideration. In its most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, Super Netball included some provisions around pregnancy and childcare.
I don’t want to heal well from labour and then the reason I didn’t get the chance to play footy being because I decided that being pregnant and training was going to be too hard for me. I don’t want that to be an excuseSam Bremner
But for rugby league, Sammy’s pregnancy has given them another opportunity to demonstrate the value of the women’s game and how inclusive the sport is.
For Sammy, when she received her elite contract, it was business as usual. She is still training and needs to present her training metrics to her coaches in the same way she would normally.
The only difference is that her movements are modified (but not the intensity) and she is not doing any contact work.
She still has plenty of involvement with the team and is continuing to do the community work she loves so much.
Sammy is no stranger to spending time on the sidelines due to injury and was surprised that spending time on the sidelines due to pregnancy would feel the same way.
According to Sammy: “It doesn’t. It’s a choice. It’s a positive choice. I am getting something really positive out of this and still so involved’.
Additionally, spending some time on the sidelines has confirmed to Sammy that after 10 years of footy, she still loves it as much as she used to.
So it would come as no surprise that Sammy’s goal is to be on field for the 2019 NRLW season.
While some may call her crazy, Sammy is focused on giving herself the best opportunity to play at the end of the year while still placing the health of the baby being as being of paramount importance.
“I don’t want to heal well from labour and then the reason I didn’t get the chance to play footy being because I decided that being pregnant and training was going to be too hard for me. I don’t want that to be an excuse,” she said.
Sammy also acknowledges the tremendous support she has received from the NRL.
“So many women and people play sport and feel like they have to choose between footy and having a family,” she said.
“I wasn’t put in that position and was encouraged to do both. I feel like I owe it to the sport I love to show that women can do both and inspire my teammates.”
Come August, my hope is to see Sammy out there playing for the Dragons, with an extra, tiny human in the cheer squad wearing a onesie that says “shoosh I’m watching the game with dad” (Bremner’s mum Maria already has that onesie at the ready).
But regardless of whether Sammy comes back this year, next year or not at all, she is one inspirational woman and certainly demonstrates that when it comes to playing footy or having a family; women don’t necessarily need to choose one or the other.