The City and Country women’s teams have been told the positive example they are setting both on and off the field is having a positive impact on female participation in Rugby League following record-breaking numbers this year.
The number of female participants registered for NSWRL competitions this season has gone past 20,000 for the first time in history in a tremendous boost for the sport.
NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden addressed players from both teams at a dinner organised at Sydney Olympic Park’s Pullman Hotel ahead of the resumption of the Open Women’s representative game at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday.
“We saw it as vital to re-introduce the concept of games between metropolitan and regional players because it’s a great celebration of football right across NSW,” Trodden said.
“And we’re very excited about it as a genuine trial for the women’s Origin team.
“Our participation numbers this year are tipped to go over 20,000 women playing rugby league in NSW – it’s never been done before.
“It’s growing at such an enormous rate and the reason is because of what you as players are doing on the field and off it. You are such important role models.
“Young girls see what you’re doing, see you on TV, see you at games, and they follow you into the sport.”
Special guest speaker at the dinner was Paralympic Games nine-time gold medallist and 11-time world champion in wheelchair track and road racing, Louise Sauvage.
“Before my big races, while I’m a very positive and highly competitive person, on the start line I was as nervous as hell,” said Sauvage, who is one of the coaches on the Australian track team for the Tokyo Paralympics in August.
“But I would say to myself ‘I can do this; I am strong enough; I am fit enough; I’ve earned this’.”
Harvey Norman Women’s NSW Origin coach Kylie Hilder told players from both sides all the hard work they had done would reap rewards.
Assistant, True Blue and former Manly Sea Eagles NRL coach and premiership winner, Geoff Toovey said he wanted every player to be passionate about the week in camp and about the game.
“Make the most of it and what you’ve got here with your coaches and the environment – be the best you can be,” Toovey said.
Country is being coached by Adam Bezzina with former NSW and Australian prop Ruan Sims helping, while City has one of Sims’ former teammates, dual international Walleroo and Jillaroo, Lisa Fiaola.