Jillaroos stars share skills at coaching clinics
RUGBY LEAGUE: The region's aspiring female rugby league players got to learn from the game's best in Rockhampton yesterday.
Australian Jillaroos players Chelsea Baker and Annette Brander and Indigenous All Stars' representative Sarah Field were front and centre at coaching clinics at three city high schools and at Victoria Park.
Gladstone product Baker, who is still riding high after the Jillaroos' historic win at the Auckland Nines early this month, said she was passionate about inspiring more young women to join rugby league's ranks.
"They'll never know if they don't try and that's what we want to imprint on them is to just take that first step. They'll realise they love it and they won't stop,” she said.
Baker said the popularity of the women's game was on the rise and that was reflected on a local level.
"Only a few years ago we only had one team in all of Gladstone and we had to come up to Rockhampton to play. Now we've got three teams and Rocky have got three teams.
"It's definitely a rapidly growing sport and the quality of the game is really getting up there.”
Brander said she was thrilled about helping grow rugby league at a grass roots level.
"The thing I love about rugby league is it brings people together, it's such a team environment and I love playing it because you know that whoever's next to you is going to put their body on the line for you.
"It's all about the mateship of the game.”
Brander said she had learned a lot since making her Australian debut in 2014.
"It's been a great experience and knowing there's other girls coming through keeps you on your toes and working harder,” she said.
Dominic Draper, the NRL's game development officer for Rockhampton, said there were some exciting developments afoot in the women's game.
They include the introduction of the Karen Murphy Cup, a schools-based competition in which Queensland's best two teams will ultimately play off in a state final.
He said the success of players such as Baker and Field would serve as a great inspiration for locals.
"It shows a pathway and that there's opportunities for them.”