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It has been a rough road but Brooke Anderson has arrived

Major shoulder, knee and ankle injuries will make you rethink your place in sport but Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues debutant Brooke Anderson is living proof you can come out the other side.

Anderson’s journey has had its fair amount of trauma after she started playing Rugby Seven back in high school. That led to a Rugby Australia contract alongside fellow Sky Blues players, Emma Tonegato and Tiana Penitani but then the troubles began.

“I played four years there and I had a lot of injuries. I had two shoulder reconstructions, I did my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and my Achilles – anything else you could think of, I did,” Anderson told

“So I resigned from Rugby Sevens and I thought my time as a footballer was up. That was 2017 and I was 21 years old.

“I said ‘I’m not going back. I need to get a job’. I was sick of all the injuries.”

Next Thursday night at Sydney’s CommBank Stadium, Anderson will come full circle joining Tonegato and Penitani in the opening game of the 2023 Ampol Women’s State of Origin.

At 26, she is one of the four debutants in Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder’s 17-player side, coming off the bench as a back rower.

Brooke Anderson (L) and Kennedy Cherrington at Sky Blues training
Brooke Anderson (L) and Kennedy Cherrington at Sky Blues training

It seems a far cry from Anderson starting fulltime work as a construction worker with ‘Built’ company after giving football away.

“I love the work. We run the job site, do traffic control, operate the hoists, forklifts – I’ve done all those.”

Anderson was 25 years-old and enjoying her job – and regular payslip – before her partner Luke had a heart-to-heart.

“He said ‘If you don’t give football another crack now, you’re never going to do it’,” she said.

“So he pretty much got me thinking… and Tiana was always talking to me, trying to coax me out of retirement.

“I made a spur of the moment decision, messaged ‘Tee’ and said ‘Where do I start?’.

“I jumped in with Harvey Norman Sharks team in the NSW Premiership (in 2022) and from there I scored a one-year NRLW contract with Parramatta.

“In that 2022 NRLW season Rugby League really clicked for me. I became much better.

“I played NSW City last year, back into Harvey Norman with Cronulla again, and then NSW City this year. I was starting to feel like a real athlete and could see my football was of a decent level.

“Then I got a phone call from Kylie just after City-Country and that was a very surreal moment. I was not expecting that, at all.

“I had a goal from when I started Rugby League that I’d love to make Origin one day – because I think it’s the absolute pinnacle game to watch and I’ve been in front of my TV the last four years.

“So I definitely had that goal but I didn’t think it would come this soon. The opportunity came up and I’m here – I’m so grateful to be here,” Anderson said.

“I know what I’m capable of, albeit there were a few doubts coming back after so long out.

“But I’m at that point, playing with these girls, that I’m proving to myself day after day that I can do this.”

After Origin, Anderson will play the 2023 NRLW season with one of the four new clubs entering the competition this year, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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