Inside Sports caught up with members of our national women’s rugby league team - the Jillaroos last Saturday at the Sydney Football stadium when the Australia Kangaroos played Lebanon for the first time in men’s rugby league.
The Jillaroos, who were playing their own World Cup which started on Thursday at Cronulla’s Shark Park, were present and signed autographs for a steady stream of supporters and people who were curious about them - our national women’s rugby league team.
One of the Jillaroos, Elianna Walton, who has been a Jillaroo regular since 2008 spoke to Inside Sport, saying what a great honour it was to represent Australia and how life-long bonds had been forged with her teammates over the years.
"I love the Bulldogs club and pushing for women’s footy in my district," Walton said.
Walton has had a long association with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs going back to 2008 when she played for their women’s team in the Sydney Metropolitan Women’s Rugby League competition.
“I’m really excited to be playing for the Jillaroos at this year’s World Cup," she said.
“I’m 32 and I’d love to keep playing beyond this year.”
Another Jillaroo, Rebecca Young, who represented Australia in rugby union at the 2006 women’s rugby World Cup before switching to rugby league, told Inside Sport she had been selected for the Jillaroos test match against the Cook Islands and was looking forward to the match.
“I’m playing with all these youngsters” she told Inside Sport as she pointed to six other Jillaroos in their stall.
Introductions were made.
“I’m Meg Ward, pleased to meet you” replied the Northern Territorian with a warm smile and a relaxed demeanour.
When asked if she was from the Northern Territory Ward said “yes, that’s me”.
“That’s Med Ward” Young piped up.
“M-E-D W-A-R-D” as she spelt it out with a big smile from ear to ear.
“You have to write about Meg as Med Ward, as one of your journalist colleagues had previously referred to her by that name in an article.
“That’s her nickname and it’s stuck among the squad now.”
Gotta love Aussies and their knockabout sense of humour - nicknames always for the newbies.
Obviously Ward had impressed playing in the Affiliated States tournament to initially catch the Australian selectors eyes and it will be good to see her in Australian colours for the second time after she played well for the Jillaroos against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.
As for Young and Walton, it Is easy to observe they are popular with the lesser experienced and younger Jillaroos.
Nikita Davis-Welsh, Annette Brander, Zahara Temara and Lavina Phillips were among the girls introduced through Young and Walton.
Young was in a playful mood with her Meg “Med” Ward antics and her playful antics made it easy to interview the younger members of the squad.
Lavina Phillips had been selected to play for Australia at this World Cup after playing so well for City, Redfern, the Indigenous All Stars and New South Wales during the 2017 season.
Phillips told Inside Sport with a beaming smile: "Yes it is and I’m looking forward to playing my part” when asked if this was her first national team.
Phillips, a mother of two, began playing in 2009 to ward off post-natal depression.
She was hanging out with her Redfern, New South Wales and now Jillaroo teammate Nikita Davis-Welsh in the Jillaroos marquee and they were excited to be at the SFS.