Townsville District Junior Rugby League trials

Juniors show their style in rugby league trials

IT started from a chance ­conversation with a neighbour but a young gun finding her way in the game of rugby league hopes it ends at the top.

Despite being a relative newcomer, Upper Ross under-11 Tayla Byrne’s ­progression has her set on a ­future in the game.

“My next door neighbour was coaching rugby league last year and he asked if I wanted to join,” Tayla said.

“This is my second year and my dream is to be a ­professional football player.”

Making waves in a starring role against Brothers in Townsville District Junior Rugby League trials on Saturday, the tackling and running machine swung between dummy-half and forward.

Embracing the physicality, a shoulder injury wasn’t enough to deter Tayla from making her presence felt.

“It’s physical and fun to get into the game and I love the tackling and love the roughness,” Tayla said.

PhotosTownsville District Junior Rugby League Trials

Synonymous with the ever-growing pool of talented young athletes, Tayla now has a clear pathway to follow after the creation of the National Rugby League Women’s ­competition in 2018.

With the times when ­aspiring female players had to walk away from the sport firmly consigned to the past, Tayla’s coach Murray Wood said rugby league at the grassroots level was benefiting.

“I’m a big supporter of girls in the game and it’s (inclusion) one of the best thing we can do,” he said.

“We’ve got a full-capacity team this year in this age group, so it’s been really good.”

While praising the ever-growing opportunities for young females, Wood was hopeful the NRL had only just begun to scratch the surface.

Suiting up for Upper Ross during his own playing days, Wood was hopeful of seeing a female from the club follow in his footsteps.

“We need to push hard and the NRL needs to be pushing harder to give them (females) more pathways and competitions,” he said.

At premier level, the TDRL has launched its women’s league, which Brothers under-11 coach Russel Bawden said would have a positive ­effect.

“When I was younger, you had a few girls but they had nothing to look forward to in the future, and now they do,” he said.

Whether it’s TDRL seniors, NRL Women’s, Origin or ­beyond, Tayla said she’s ­focused on playing every game like it’s her last.

“And if I play hard enough, maybe one of the NRL people will come and have a chat to me,” she said.


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