Female rugby league players from the Queensland Rugby League South East pocket will get the chance of a lifetime on Sunday, April 10.
The final round of grading for the South East women’s competitions take place at Redcliffe in the lead up to the first ever Queensland-based NRLW premiership decider.
In what is set to be a huge celebration of the female game, the Aspley Devils and Pine Central Holy Spirit Hornets under 12 girls will also meet in a curtain-raiser to the St George Illawarra Dragons and Sydney Roosters showdown.
Clubs set to take part across the day include Valleys, Runaway Bay, Goodna, Normanby, Nerang and the Swifts Bluebirds.
Aspley Devils female co-ordinator Chantal Haua said the decision to include the South East players in the day would not only show the next generation what they could aspire to, but also celebrated the contributions community clubs had made to the NRLW.
Aspley has helped develop a number of NRLW players, including young Brisbane Broncos duo Sara Sautia and Nakita Sao, and former St George forward Asipau Mafi.
“It’s not only an opportunity to be there and be part of the day, but it’s a really good way to thank those community clubs that have done a lot of work and helped pave the way for there to be an NRLW,” Haua said.
“For our younger girls, it lets them know those players are there, playing NRLW, and that they might be there one day too.
“We’re a development club and we have a couple of girls playing in the NRLW at the moment who started off as juniors with us.
“Back in 2012 we were playing against the likes of Ali (Brigginshaw) and Steph Hancock. I had never played before and I was up against legends like that.
“A lot of our community clubs helped develop these players and that’s one of the reasons our women are able to play now. That’s where they started.”
Haua, who plays in Aspley’s reserve grade team, was the one who approached the club back in 2011 and appealed to them to introduce a women’s side.
Her brother had played there as a junior and her father was the former teammate of now president, Stephen Buckley.
Together Haua and the club worked to develop a women’s team and one year later, they played their debut season.
She is unsure when she will hang up the boots, but Haua knows there will always a place for her to help develop those pathways for the girls and women of the game.
“I’ve been there 11 years now,” she said.
“The female co-ordinator role started last year but I’ve always been involved in making sure our females stick around the club and have opportunities.
“I’d always wanted to play rugby league. I grew up round it, my dad played and he coached my brother’s team.
“I just wanted to be part of something… we went to Aspley because we thought they might give us a go and fortunately for us they did.
“I think they’re very happy with the decision due to the number of players we’ve brought into the club. It’s pretty cool.”
The grading games will start around the Redcliffe grounds from 9.30am, with four rounds of matches across the day.
The postponed Round 1 Harvey Norman Under 19 round robin match between Norths Devils, Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Tweed Seagulls will instead become a full match, with a number of Norths players combining with Wynnum Manly to form one team, while the other team will see some Burleigh Bears players join with Tweed.
The match will be played as a curtain-raiser to the NRLW grand final at Moreton Daily Stadium, which kicks off at 1.30pm.
For more information on draws, visit playrugbyleague.com.