Sally Dwyer last played rugby league as a 12-year-old in Woolongong.
It was alongside the boys, that’s like most young girls starting out, but at the time, due to the progression to international rules in under 13s, that was it.
She wasn’t allowed to play tackle footy anymore.
Fast forward over a decade and Dywer, from Parkes, is now one step away from representing NSW Country as an emerging star of the women’s tackle game.
The Orange Hawks backrower has been a stand-out for Group 10 during the inaugural Western Women’s Rugby League (WWRL) premiership and, despite an ankle injury in game one of the Southern trials at Yass, impressed enough with the Rams to earn a call-up to play for Southern at Mudgee this Saturday.
After being told she couldn’t play again at the age of 12, you can imagine the excitement on the now 24-year-old’s face when she found out she’d be trialing for a NSW Country jumper.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Dwyer said.
“I injured my ankle after the first game (against Illawarra) so I didn’t think I was a chance but when I found out I was so excited.”
Dwyer will line-up in a backrow that contains two internationals.
Orange’s Vanessa Foliaki is one third of the impressive trio at lock, while Parkes’ Talesha Quinn has also been named, giving Southern’s second-row a distinct Spacecats feel.
Orange’s Bec Ford has been named at five-eighth while Blayney’s Grace Mooney is on one wing. Impressive Bathurst St Pat’s prop Haylee Lepaio will appear off the bench.
“I’m so excited to be playing with Talesha and Ella (Harris),” Dwyer added, all three hail from Parkes.
“It’s going to be great. I’m just looking forward to learning and playing alongside girls who have played at the top for the last five years.
“Going up to Southern training at Yass last Sunday, the knowledge these girls have is incredible. Ruan (Sims) is amazing and all of the girls are amazing.”
The Northern and Southern clash will kick-off a bumper day of football at Glen Willow, with the Country trial to be followed by the Johns Cup and Daley Cup finals and WWRL deciders in opens and under 18s.
Dwyer is one of a handful of Group 10 girls set to back-up for the WWRL opens grand final at 4pm and, if she impresses enough, she could do so as a NSW Country representative.
“I’d love to get a country jersey. I’m keen to give it a good crack and we’ll see how it unfolds,” she added.
Southern takes on Northern at Mudgee from 10.30am on Saturday.
- SOUTHERN: 1 Jamie Ann-Wright (Corrimal), 2 Gab Sucking (Yass), 3 Rikeya Horne (Corrimal), 4 Shakiah Tungai (Avondale), 5 Grace Mooney (Blayney, Group 10), 6 Rebecca Ford (Orange, Group 10), 7 Shannon Pike (Riverina), 8 Georgie Brooker (Cronulla-Caringbah), 9 Ella Harris (Orange/Parkes, Group 10), 10 Ruan Sims (Cronulla-Caringbah), 11 Sally Dwyer (Orange/Parkes, Group 10), 12 Talesha Quinn (Parkes, Cronulla-Caringbah), 13 Vanessa Folikia (Orange, Brisbane Easts); Bench: 14 Emma Hickey (Riverina), 15 Maddison Perceval (Helensburgh), 16 Lauretta Leao-Seve (Riverina), 17 Hayley Lepaio (Bathurst, Group 10), 18 Takilele Katoa (Riverina), 19 Katherine Pevere (Riverina), 20 Mikayla Malaki (Corrimal).