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The deep dive to uncover Jillaroos records

After more than 12 months of research into three decades of international history, statistics and all-time lists on the Australia Jillaroos can finally be revealed.

The Jillaroos have had 159 players represent Australia since 1995 but statistical data on personal accolades has been scarce, particularly for the first two decades.

However, through the work of stats guru David Middleton, each player has now been given figures on the number of games they've played, how many tries and points scored, and their debut match, if they weren't aware already.

"It was a really challenging but rewarding experience at the same time to search for information on the Jillaroos history," Middleton told NRL.com. 

"Women's rugby league has been around for a long time but unfortunately, and with no disrespect to the women, in the earlier days when Australian sides took the field there just wasn't a major emphasis on anything other than keeping score.

Match Highlights: Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns

"It wasn't that people didn't care but in most cases, a lot of in-depth information wasn't recorded.

"There wasn't a lot of media coverage around games and if you attended them you didn't think to record who scored or who played, it was more a novelty to watch."

Middleton's process of collecting data began in 2019 and has included ongoing dialogue with past and present players, coaches and team managers who may have played a part with the Jillaroos over the past three decades.

From squad lists to old programs, photos and replays of games - most of which came via VHS tape - Middleton likened the process to putting together a jigsaw puzzle in a bid to gather information.

What is a Jillaroo?

And despite his best efforts, he still believes there may be some information missing around the 2008 World Cup, such is the complex task.

"You look at what you've got and figure out what's missing, ask around and go from there," Middleton said. 

"A lot of the players have good memories around trips ... they might keep photos, booklets and trophies or awards like team of the tournament lists, that can help solve when and where a game was played or who was involved."

Thankfully, Middleton said there would be no such issues looking for information for games following the 2017 World Cup.

"We've seen as the women's game has grown over the past decade and with technology, through the internet and other sources, a lot more data is being kept," Middleton said.

"The NRLW is a prime example of that - statistics and other information with players have been recorded from the competition's beginning and that makes it far easier to keep on top of records in the future."

This is another important moment for the Jillaroos culture

Australia coach Brad Donald

Jillaroos coach Brad Donald said the statistics would continue to help the coaching staff and players acknowledge the past while giving players the future opportunities to celebrate milestones. 

"We're always wanting our players to leave the jersey in a better place and through Middo's work we've been able to give every past and present Jillaroo some numbers to go with their player number," Donald said. 

"It would be great to be able to have a jersey presented to a player knowing that they've passed or equalled another on an all-time list. 

"We see it happen in the men's game a lot so this is just another important moment for the Jillaroos culture.

"It's also important for the fans and media covering the game that they can be provided with some information."

Former Jillaroos trio Tahnee Norris (32), Karyn Murphy (27) and Natalie Dwyer (26) round out the top three for most appearances in Australian colours with Katrina Fanning and Teresa Anderson behind them on 23 each.

Former Jillaroos prop Steph Hancock, who last played a Test match in 2018, has scored 13 tries in 20 appearances to sit ahead of Loretta O'Neill and Sam Bremner on the all-time try-scorers list.

Jillaroos Ruan Sims, Steph Hancock and Renae Kunst celebrate their World Cup win.
Jillaroos Ruan Sims, Steph Hancock and Renae Kunst celebrate their World Cup win. ©Gregg Porteous./NRL Photos.

Bremner scored a Jillaroos record five tries in a match against France in Featherstone during the 2013 World Cup.

Current Jillaroos skipper Ali Brigginshaw leads the charge in the point-scoring department with 60 in total (seven tries and 16 goals) across 17 games played. 

Brigginshaw's halves partner at the 2017 World Cup, Caitlin Moran, has kicked the most goals in Jillaroos history.

Moran showed dominance over her two-year international career to record four tries, 18 goals and a field goal but hasn't returned to the representative scene since rupturing her ACL in 2018.

Jillaroos History

Most Appearances

  • Tahnee Norris - 32 (1998-2013)
  • Karyn Murphy - 27 (1998-2013)
  • Natalie Dwyer - 26 (1995-2013)
  • Katrina Fanning - 23 (1995-2004)
  • Teresa Anderson - 23 (1998-2008)
  • Loretta O’Neill - 20 (1995-2004)
  • Stephanie Hancock - 20 (2003-2018)
  • Erin Elliott - 19 (2002-2011)
  • Ali Brigginshaw - 17 (2009-2019)
  • Veronica White - 17 (1995-2004)
Sam Bremner joins the Jillaroos celebrations after the World Cup final.
Sam Bremner joins the Jillaroos celebrations after the World Cup final. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Most Tries

  • Stephanie Hancock - 13 (2003-2018)
  • Loretta O’Neill - 10 (1995-2004)
  • Samantha Bremner - 10 (2013-2016)
  • Teresa Anderson - 9 (1998-2008)
  • Isabelle Kelly - 9 (2017-2019)
  • Karyn Murphy - 8 (1998-2013)
  • Karina Brown - 8 (2013-2018)
  • Ali Brigginshaw - 7 (2009-2019)
  • Tarah Westera - 6 (2003-2013)
  • Rebecca Tavo - 6 (2002-2003)
Jillaroos star Ali Brigginshaw.
Jillaroos star Ali Brigginshaw. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Most points

  • Ali Brigginshaw - 60 (2009-2019)
  • Stephanie Hancock - 58 (2003-2018)
  • Caitlin Moran - 53 (2016-2017)
  • Loretta O’Neill - 48 (1995-2004)
  • Tracey Thompson - 46 (1999-2004)
  • Samantha Bremner - 40 (1995-2004)
  • Natalie Dwyer - 40 (1995-2013)
  • Teresa Anderson - 36 (1998-2008)
  • Isabelle Kelly - 36 (2017-2019)
  • Karyn Murphy - 32 (1998-2013)
  • Karina Brown - 32 (2013-2018)

Most goals

  • Caitlin Moran - 18 (2016-2017)
  • Tracey Thompson - 17 (1999-2004)
  • Ali Brigginshaw - 16 (2009-2019)
  • Maddie Studdon - 13 (2014-2017)
  • Karen Shaw - 12 (1997-2000)
  • Teina Clark - 10 (2008-2009)
  • Natalie Dwyer - 10 (1995-2013)
  • Chelsea Baker - 5 (2016-2018)
  • Loretta O’Neill - 4 (1995-2004)
  • Shakiah Tungai - 4 (2019)

 

Source: David Middleton, League Information Services