The NRLW season is tough for this mum, but worth it

This year's lead up to the NRLW has been a bit bumpy.

My nose is still broken from State of Origin and I am scheduled for surgery this coming Tuesday for an ongoing ankle problem.

I was supposed to go for surgery on Tuesday just gone, but due to a delayed flight from Gladstone to Brisbane I missed my surgery time slot.

Unfortunately that postpones recovery by a whole week. It puts everything behind schedule, but I am sure that the Brisbane Broncos staff will have some creative ways to keep me fit whilst I'm recovering.

Outside of footy for me, it's struggle street already for my family. Especially for the husband and I because we know what to expect. It's going to be a long two and a bit months... but it's definitely worth it. I will never say it's not worth it.

This year's timings are a bit rougher for me. We've got a Jillaroos camp right before I move to Brisbane to join my Broncos teammates, so I've got to come down nearly a week earlier than anticipated.

Chelsea Baker in the Jillaroos line up in 2017. Photo: NRL Images
Chelsea Baker in the Jillaroos line up in 2017. Photo: NRL Images

It means that instead of being away from home and family for the eight weeks for the NRLW, I'm now away for nine. That's going to be very hard for me, but it's okay because I absolutely love what I do.  I have my family away from family in the Broncos girls.

They really looked after me and knew when I was having a rough day last year.

None more so than Stephanie Hancock and Meg Ward. They are the biggest sweethearts of the game. They're always on to me. They know when I'm down and they know how to pick me up. So I'm so thankful to be surrounded by them and every one of those girls. 

The Jillaroos camp on the Gold Coast is the second of the year.

They have invited the 20 or so marquee players that were selected earlier in the year and a few more players who have proved themselves throughout the year and earned a spot in the group.

I'm not sure what to expect coming into this camp. I do know they will be putting us through our paces - some fitness testing to see our progress through the year  and a lot of off-field work as well. It's always exciting. 

When it comes to the NRLW, it's Broncos again for me this year - definitely. 

The Brisbane Broncos' 2018 NRLW team. Photo: NRL Images
The Brisbane Broncos' 2018 NRLW team. Photo: NRL Images

Pre season for the Broncos starts August 12 with our official launch and then the hard - harder - yards commence.

The team that has been put together is fantastic. I'm really excited for all of the returning players that are in there - and even more so for the new girls.

Of course we're all devastated over the loss of a few of the girls, but at the end of the day, it is a competition. We were never going to have the exact same team and if people thought that, then they were a bit naive.

When I found out players were going to other clubs, I had nothing but congratulations and well wishes for them.  Unfortunately, not everybody feels the same. I think there's a few cranky parties out there, which sucks for these girls who honestly just want to go out there and play good footy.

This year's NRLW will be a step up from last year, and by the looks of the teams and the emerging talent being signed, it's going to be a really good, hard competition.

With more and more people becoming aware of it and coming along and watching these games, the closer we will get to growing it to the ultimate goal of a full 16 team NRLW competition. How good will that be!