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Grand final display a culmination of years of sacrifice

Every week, I - the Queensland Rugby League media services executive - was working behind the scenes, helping to bring the BHP Premiership broadcast to life.

Presented with a close-up view of the dedication and hard work required by the players to get onto the field each week, this year's first full season of the competition showcased plenty of skill, passion and reward for effort. 

Here are my thoughts on the season which culminated in an epic grand final on Sunday afternoon. 

Top five: BHP Premiership grand final

Rugby league… it's the game we love.

The sport that binds our communities and brings people together. The game that shows you anything is possible.

This past weekend, as the sun set over Brisbane on a brisk Sunday afternoon, rugby league in Queensland entered a new era. It was taken to new heights.

The pastime hailed as 'one of the toughest in the world' added a new chapter to its Queensland history which began in 1908 as the Burleigh Bears claimed the inaugural BHP Premiership over the Valleys Diehards in a nail-biting grand final that will be remembered for many years to come.

Grand final highlights: Diehards v Bears

For the 34 players who took to Totally Workwear Stadium, their run onto the field would have been like many they had done before.

But this time, it was different, and for whole new generation of kids across Queensland, it will open doors, ignite pathways, and raise the stakes.

Symbolic, perhaps, of the work women have been doing for this great sport for decades, in the shadows. Showing if you push a bit further, tackle a bit harder and run a bit faster… you can achieve it. 

For female participants, it’s been a long road, a gruelling wait and at times… a distant dream.

We saw it last year… so much excitement for the statewide women’s competition to kick-off. Only for it to be cancelled after a week, and we were all made to wait just a little longer due to COVID-19.

But as any woman knows… dreams aren’t impossible – they just require some grit, determination, self-discipline and belief.

To play at this level is a fight they’ve never given up on. A goal they’ll never let go of – to be able to play, to compete – week-in, week-out.

You may be thinking, Sunday was just another game of footy, but for hundreds of female athletes, their families, friends and those who support them… it was a momentous occasion for women’s sport in our mighty state.

A time to celebrate. A time to remember that good things don’t come easily, but if you’re willing to put the work in… it is worth it.

Valleys Diehards and Burleigh Bears were the two form teams of the competition.

They worked extremely hard all season for their moment and they proved exactly why they belonged on the big stage.

A pioneer of women's rugby league, Tahnee Norris celebrates post-match. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL
A pioneer of women's rugby league, Tahnee Norris celebrates post-match. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL

It was a merciless 70 minutes. Nothing was left on that field when the siren sounded.

We saw it with those big fends from Tamika Upton. Savannah Pratten’s impossible try in the corner and that sneaky one-on-one steal from Crystal Tamarua to change the game... it may have even changed the result.

But that’s exactly what these women are doing... they’re changing the game, changing the outcome for the next generation.

The women of Queensland Rugby League are many things… mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and colleagues… but they are also footy players who can play a brutal and entertaining game.

As a society, we can look back on all the times we tried and failed, jumped and fell; but instead, it would be far more beneficial if we looked to the future. Change things for the better and revel in the idea that we have plenty more of this good stuff coming our way.

Hayley Maddick laments a tough loss. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL
Hayley Maddick laments a tough loss. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL

It’s been said that even with all the talent in the world, you won’t get far without your team mates.

Yes, it’s been a long time coming and there’s further to go… but one thing is for sure. These fighters… now champions. These women… now minor premiers and premiers. They are just getting started.

Safe to say as a proud rugby league fan and lucky enough to work in the greatest game of all, I know it didn't come without sacrifice, so for those who came before me, you're an inspiration. 

Bring on the 2022 season.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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