Experienced rugby league players Rebecca Young and Caitlin Moran will make history for the second time in as many months when they run onto Southern Cross Stadium this weekend representing the Newcastle Knights against Cronulla Sharks.
The game comes off the back of the pair’s historic win as part of the Indigenous All-Stars against the World All Stars at Newcastle Stadium for the inaugural Fanning/Murphy trophy. In a boost to the women’s game, the NRL played the match as a double-header in conjunction with the men’s game on February 10. The boys Under-16 match was played the day before.
Now the pair will showcase their skills and highlight the talent in women’s NRL in an exhibition match to be played at the conclusion of the mens’ first-grade match this Saturday. It is the first time Newcastle has fielded a team at this level.
Hatch reporter Caroline Layt caught up with Indigenous skipper Rebecca Young and young protege Caitlin Moran in Newcastle before their club training session with North Newcastle on International Women’s Day. They discussed all things rugby league, including their what inspires them and their on-field careers as proud indigenous women. Both players are passionate about representing their people, region, state and country in the game they love.
Knights v Sharks
The Knights team will be coached by former Newcastle first-grader and Bec’s husband, Mick Young. The team will include four current Australian Jillaroos in Young, Isabelle Kelly, Simone Smith, Caitlin Moran and former Australian halfback Kylie Hilder. Margaret Watson, another talented player has represented the Australian Wallaroos in rugby union and New South Wales in rugby league.
The Sharks team will be ably led by current Jillaroos skipper Ruan Sims and features current Jillaroos, NSW, Queensland and All Stars representatives, including Allana Ferguson, Maddie Studdon, Corban McGregor, Ruby Ewe Talesha Quinn and Libby Cook-Black. Shontelle Stowers has successfully switched from rugby union after playing against New Zealand Black Ferns in a test match last season for the Australian Wallaroos.
With a star-studded lineup, the Cronulla Sharks will start favourites after they recorded big wins against the Canberra Raiders and St George Illawarra over the past few weeks. The Knights, however, will give a good account of themselves and it wouldn’t surprise to see them record an upset.
The match has special significance for Young, as she now joins her husband as a Newcastle Knights representative. A proud day for the married couple.
Moran’s interest in rugby league began when she tagged along with her older brother to training. Little did she know that one day she would be playing elite rugby league like her cousin Dennis Moran, a former Parramatta Eels star. Her idol and Indigenous teammate, Bo De La Cruz, would be proud.
Later in the season both women will play as members of the NSW and Australian squads. With Interstate bragging rights on the line, they are primed to repeat their winning efforts of last season, when they won the Nellie Doherty Cup for the first time after 15 previous losses dating back to 1999 and a 4-all draw in 2015.
And at the end of the season, there is a World Cup as Australian representatives to aspire to.
The preview to the groundbreaking Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks match, which kicks off at 5.15pm, can be viewed here. – Story by Caroline Layt, video filmed by Bakri Mahmoud and produced by Phil Logan
Top picture screenshot of Rebecca Young from video