BEECHWOOD duo Larissa Ward and Nicole Pender hope their decision to pass on the chance to play women’s rugby league in Newcastle will help grow the local competition.
Ward and Pender are no strangers to having a footy in their hands – whether it’s league tag with Port City Breakers or through touch football with Port Macquarie.
Now they hope they can encourage more women to sign up to play in the Hastings League women’s competition in 2019.
With only three teams playing a round-robin format this year, organisers are hopeful they can double that number by March next year.
“We were invited to play with North Newcastle, but we decided to go against that, stay locally, start here and play with our own area in the Hastings,” Pender said.
An invitation to the Country Rugby League northern selection trials in Muswellbrook in February provided their starting point into women’s rugby league.
They both admitted they “loved it.”
“We were invited to enter a team into the 13s for the CRL Northern Selections and from there they realised 13s was the way to go rather than nines,” Pender said.
There have already been girls that have enjoyed playing the tackle format.
“There are girls that have never played touch footy before or anything that are playing,” Pender said.
“Even girls you wouldn’t expect to play love it.”
The word of advice for prospective players was quite simple.
“It’s more fun than league tag and touch; don’t be afraid, it’s nothing to be scared of,” Pender said.
Ward said there were plenty of positives to be gained from giving the game a go.
“I started playing because I just enjoy playing footy; I love touch and league tag and when the nines came up, I wanted to try it,” she said.
“(In tackle) there’s a bit more going on with the ball and you’ve got more time to be doing things.
“With touch and league tag it’s so easy to get touched and tagged whereas with tackle there’s actually a technique that you need.
“You’ve got to work to be defensive and make your tackles, but it’s a lot of fun.”
There is no doubt the success of the Women’s State of Origin last month has dangled another carrot in front of the girls.
They want to be on the big stage and see no reason why they can’t.
Ideally, organisers hope next year’s competition will have teams from Port Macquarie, Kempsey, Beechwood, Wauchope and other parts of the Mid North Coast.
For anyone that wants to go and have a look, a women’s rugby league match will be played at Beechwood on Saturday from 1.30pm.