Not many people get to call time on their rugby league careers on their own terms, but after appearing in the 2021 NRLW grand final, Kody House has done just that, hanging up the boots after 10 years in the game.
It may have fallen just short of a perfect fairytale ending with the St George Illawarra Dragons going down to the Sydney Roosters in a fantastic final last Sunday, but House more than played her part in a huge campaign for her side after signing up late to the squad, where she had less than 24 hours to make her decision to join the Saints.
“It would have been great to have won, but you know, that’s football and I am just so proud of the girls for doing a complete 180 from last season, from getting the wooden spoon, from not winning a game, and now, off the back of this season, it has just been unreal,” House said.
With this year's 2022 NRLW season only a few short months away, House had spoken to coach Jamie Soward about perhaps delaying her retirement plans and “doing a Steph Hancock” – but with so many other things left to do and achieve in life, she felt the time was right to walk away.
“It’s so tempting – Steph keeps coming back because you love footy and you love your friends, but for me I guess, I have given so much of my life and been so selfish for 10 years and it’s time where I can have that family time now and focus on a career,” House – who recently completed study to be an exercise physiologist – said about her playing future.
In her time at the Dragons this past season, House lived with a large, but close-knit group of players and staff, including Meg Ward, who served as an assistant coach for the side while working on making her playing return from injury. Ward was recently named as an assistant coach with the Queensland Under 19 Girls team, a role House think she will excel in.
“She was supposed to be playing, but obviously had her injury … she’s on track now with her rehab, but that’s a really bitter pill to swallow,” House said.
“And Tash (Ward’s fiancé and fellow Dragons signing Natassja Purontakanen) as well, to have two injuries and still commit to staying there when they could have gone home just shows the type of people they are and how invested they were into this team,” House said.
“Wardy is just so positive, good communicator; she’s so much fun and brings so much energy, it was so great to have her running water as well and relaying messages; but she’s just so positive.
“She slots in at training, when we are doing attack or defence; she’s put a couple of steps on people and made some breaks and we are all like ‘what the hell’ and I’m excited to hopefully see her come back and same with Tash.
“She’s going to go great with that coaching role, she’s so invested and she’s got such a great knowledge of the game and I think she’s learnt a lot too from Sowie down here and it’s just going to make everything better for her career and her future moving forward.”
While Ward will help usher in the next generation of talent in Queensland, support for women’s rugby league continues to rise across the board and despite no Queensland teams taking part in the decider, there were just under 8000 people in attendance at the grand final at Moreton Daily Stadium. It was a huge showing of support for the women’s game and something House was thrilled to see.
“It was unreal, to have two Sydney teams and still have so many people is pretty unreal,” House said.
“I think me and Zee (Zahara Temara) and Keilee (Joseph) were the only Queensland players who played – we had a couple of Queensland girls in the squads who didn’t get to play – but it’s pretty special to have that support up here, considering most of the games were down in Sydney.
“It’s pretty unreal (to have such a big crowd), it was a great field here, the Dolphins were unreal, couldn’t ask for a better day.”