Collegians league tag player Bella Mountain has had a successful first year in the sport.
Collegians league tag player Bella Mountain has had a successful first year in the sport. Sean Teuma

Women's league on the rise after NRL announcement

FRESH after the Jillaroos' thrilling World Cup victory last weekend, the women's game has received a further shot in the arm.

The NRL revealed this week a women's competition would be formed in 2018, with up to six teams.

As a part of the announce- ment, a national champion- ship for junior players and talent scouting will come to fruition.

This gives young female players the best chance of emulating local stars Stephanie Hancock, Heather Ballinger and Jo Barrett on the big stage.

Miss Barrett, a former Jillaroo and Warwick representative, said the news was positive for young girls entering the sport.

Remarkably, Miss Barrett didn't play her first game of rugby league until her 20s.

"I spent a lot of time on sidelines at Collegians and my cousins and I had spent life around around rugby league in Warwick," Miss Barrett said.

"More than anything, it was socially unacceptable when I was little.

"My first game was in my 20s for a fundraiser, when Warwick played Killarney.

"There would've been 1000 people there."

Miss Barrett said the new pathway was a tremendous sign for the future of the sport.

"It is a really rewarding time to watch what is happening in the game," she said. "During the World Cup people watched, and didn't see gender, just good-quality football.

"If little girls want to play the game, gender shouldn't be a reason why they stop."

It is hoped the move will introduce more girls to the sport, like Collegians league-tag player Bella Mountain, who played her first season this year.

"I've been into athletics, and a friend of mine said I should join with her," Bella said. "It was a really fun year."

Her first season proved successful, scoring 19 tries as a centre/winger.

A move by the WDJRL to extend the U16s league tag competition to U17s will allow players like Bella keep playing in 2018.

Sean Teuma


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