Nine Group 19 girls are putting their names in the history books with a berth in the first women’s tackle rugby league Country Championships.
Taneika Landsborough, Alyce Walsh, Amy Barraclough, Brooke O’Halloran, Robyn Broadbent, Katelyn Smith, Sarah Byrne, Amelia and Alisa Tunamena were named in the Greater Northern squad after standout efforts in Saturday’s regional championships.
Armidale’s Lauren Clarke represented Group 4 and also managed to earn a spot.
Group 19 took on Groups 4 and 21 and came within a whisker of claiming the regional trophy.
First up against Group 21, nerves saw Group 19 miss opportunities in a game they dominated from the get-go.
After scoring first, they went down 6-4. Group 21 claimed the Jane Walmsley Shield.
They beat Group 4 22-nil in the second game.
The side were coached by Armidale’s Kate McCulloch who was “proud” of the commitment and effort shown by the team.
“Even though we didn't get the win in the first game, missed out by a conversion, they really showed how committed they were,” she said.
“A little bit of nerves, a few dropped balls, we were down in their half the whole first half and scored one try so it was really unlucky.”
Group 19’s nine in the Greater Northern squad is the largest contingent from across the three Groups.
McCulloch’s own efforts with the Group 19 team have also been rewarded with a further coaching appointment.
She has been appointed as the Greater Northern assistant coach with Mick Schmiedel in the top job.
“I’m really really keen to further myself as a coach so I will be making everything I can of this opportunity,” she said.
“Part of growing as a game is to be able to develop our players and that’s what I want to be able to do. There is so much talent waiting to be discovered and I want to be a mentor to these girls.
“I think the icing on the cake for me would be to one day see a local junior make it to the highest level and play for Australia.”
McCulloch is has been an advocate for women’s tackle rugby league and is thrilled to be part of the new era in the sport.
“It’s honestly a dream of mine to see the girls in the bush get the same opportunities as our city counterparts,” she said.
“We are still not there yet, but seeing the progress, not just in participation but more so in level of skill is just overwhelming, I’m definitely proud to be a part of it. Hopefully it continues to get bigger and bigger over the next few years.”