Lifting the NRL All Stars women’s trophy was a moment up there with the Jillaroos 2013 World Cup victory, for Indigenous All Stars captain Bec Young.
There are few more passionate rugby league people than Young and the former Maitland Pickers women’s captain knows just how much hard work went into her team’s first win in the annual series.
“It’s a massive feeling,” Young said. “It’s so amazing, I can’t believe it. The girls really pulled through and went to the next level. We asked each and every one of them to draw strength from their community and people. And they did.”
Young’s hard work in promoting the game is also paying off with talks proceeding with the Newcastle Knights about fielding a women’s 13s and a nines team in the statewide competition this year.
A Knights women’s team would give recently success-starved Newcastle fans something to cheer about with the side likely to include at least four Jillaroos in its ranks.
Young would be joined by fellow Hunter player Caitlin Moran, who starred on Friday night, Indigenous All Stars teammate Simone Smith and Izzy Kelly from the World All Stars in the Newcastle colours.
The four players are part of the Jillaroos squad to meet New Zealand in the annual Anzac Test, which will be held in Canberra on May 5.
“We are in talks with Matt Gidley from the Knights about fielding a team under the Knights banner in the women’s equivalent to the NSW Cup,” Young said.
“It would be a fantastic step for us, but whether it’s this year or next it’s important for the game to expand in this direction.
“I think it’s inevitable than in five years all of the NRL teams will field women’s side but we’ve come a long way by taking small steps and consolidating them as we go.
“To me it’s not about gender, but what is good for the game. I’m a passionate league person and I would rather the NRL learn from other sports’ developments and pick what will work for them and get it right.
“The AFL Women’s competition has been fantastic, but I think what has been critical is that fans are following their team. They love the game and have seen the women perform at a great standard, but they love their team and will support them regardless of gender.”
Young was watched by daughter, Jarrah, 6, son, Colbee, 2, and husband Nick, who played at the Knights, and her extended family, on Friday night.
She said she hoped her legacy in the game would be that Jarrah and Colbee have the opportunity to both play rugby league professionally at the highest level.