Anyone who has spent any time in representative camps with sports trainer and first aid educator and facilitator Robyn Tyler is guaranteed to have heard her say these three statements:
“Maybe the players might want some Powerade as well as water? I better make some up just in case.”
“Pickle juice! Guys, I need to make sure we get some pickle juice.”
“How can I help?”
The last comment is one she says the most; because as Tyler – and indeed any sports trainer involved in our game – will tell you, being a sports trainer means having to be flexible and willing to try your hand at anything.
The job can take you anywhere and see you take on board any number of roles; be it filling up water bottles at training, to administering first aid on game day – and a whole lot in between.
A highly credentialed sports trainer, Tyler has recently added the tasks of a sports scientist to her repertoire – but it all began for her at a local league level; showing there are pathways for women in league to reach the elite level on and off the field.
Her most recent assignment saw her in camp with the history-making Queensland Women’s State of Origin team; while last year she was part of the team of staff (alongside physiotherapist Carly Jennar who featured recently in Living League) who worked with the Australian Jillaroos in their Rugby League World Cup winning campaign.
“I have always been a massive rugby league fan!” the Ipswich-based Tyler told QRL Media.
“Having the chance to participate in and develop the game I love is a massive privilege (and) I have been so very fortunate with what I have experienced in rugby league so far.
“I became involved in the game in Ipswich as a sports trainer / first aid facilitator and due to my experience outside the game was appointed into the State Junior Carnival role with South East Division ... and this is still to this day one of my favourite camps of the year.
“My experience within local league and representative programs gave me the exposure I required to be selected for the Queensland Women’s role and from there I was privileged enough to progress to the Jillaroos.
“My degree in Exercise Physiology has since seen me transfer into the sports scientist role with the Jillaroos when required, as the support for the Jillaroos diversifies.”
While Tyler has worked her way to the top level of the sport in this country – she certainly isn’t in it for the glamour, as some of the roles can put your in potentially awkward situations.
NRL Elite Programs Manager and Jillaroos coach Brad Donald previously worked with Tyler when he was coach of the Queensland Women’s team and more recently with the Jillaroos; and praised her willingness to help out in whatever way possible.
“Robyn has worked as part of the staff in SEQ, Queensland and Jillaroos teams and has always been willing to take any role required to assist the team,” he said.
“A great example of this was her willingness to take charge of the hydration testing in last year’s World Cup campaign.
“This required collecting urine samples every morning for the team and getting feedback to each of them.
“It is definitely one of those jobs that has to be done, and Rob would go about this and her other duties quietly. She has contributed (in a similar way) to many teams in SEQ, Queensland and now nationally.”
'It's been a phenomenal 12 months' - Carly Jennar
While the work may be hard at times, people like Tyler find it rewarding as looking after the health and wellbeing of the players helps them to achieve great things on the field.
Having been involved in the women’s game for a number of years, she has seen firsthand the great strides that have been made in the game - including with the staging of the Women's State of Origin match earlier this year.
“Having worked with some of the women who will be completing in the NRL Holden Women’s Premiership next month; it is so sensational to see their love and commitment to the game being recognised.
“(And) with women now fulfilling any role from CEO of an NRL club, through to referees, club secretaries, sports trainers, coaches and now elite players, boundaries are being broken and mindsets changed daily.”
While the opportunities are now more open than ever for women to be part of the sport; Tyler said the best way to learn and get involved was to get on the front foot.
“Get out there, seek knowledge, shadow people in your area of expertise, get involved in mentoring and rep programs as these are very underutilised and take on any role – you never know where it might lead.”