Newcastle champions Bec Young, Bobbi Law, Simone Smith, and Caitlan Johnston are set to open this year’s rugby league campaign in style, with the Hunter quartet named in Ben Jeffries’ star-studded Indigenous Women’s All-Stars lineup.
The Indigenous outfit will face across-the-pond rivals the Maoris in the high-stakes representative battle. The women’s clash to be played as a curtain-raiser to the men, where NRL stars like Kalyn Ponga, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, and Rabbitohs recruit Latrell Mitchell will do battle at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
Young, Law, Smith, and Johnston have been included in an 18-player squad which also includes the likes of Jillaroos superstars Tallisha Harden and Shakiah Tungai.
Both Young and Johnston are expected to retain their roles in the squad’s forward pack, potentially donning their 2019 jerseys number 8 and 12 respectively.
Law and Smith are both new inclusions to the side, and both will provide a lethal spark at the back for Jeffries’ squad. Law played most of Newcastle’s state title-winning campaign in the centres, while Smith offers versatility in the halves or backs.
Bec Young, who played 22 minutes in the side’s 8–4 loss last year, has spoken before about just how special it is to have new faces like Law and Smith coming into the side, and admitted it’s “fantastic” to see them first pull on the jersey.
“I’ve talked about it before… to see these debutantes go out there, put their bodies on the line, play for their sisters, and represent their communities, they do everyone involved proud. It’s amazing to see,” Young said. “That’s what you play footy for.”
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She also knows there’s a hint of revenge playing around the edges of the match on the Gold Coast. The “talented” Maoris got the better of her side last time the two met at AAMI Park, and those that remain want to reverse the script.
“We were really confident coming into [the last game], we knew what we had to do… we put our bodies on the line for that game,” Young continued. “When I talk about pride, we knew that it was going to be a tough game against the Maoris, and to come away with 8–4, in the end, was a tough, and a fantastic achievement.”
The women’s NRL All Stars match is expected to begin at 5.10pm on Saturday, February 22 at Cbus Super Stadium, head of the men’s battle at 8.10pm.
Indigenous Women’s All Stars: Jasmine Allende, Shaylee Bent, Nakia Davis-Welsh, Quincy Dodd, Layla Fauid, Tallisha Harden, Jenni-Sue Hoepper, Caitlan Johnston, Bobbi Law, Tanika Marshall, Steph Mooka, Kelsey Parkin, Kaitlyn Phillips, Shaniah Power, Rhiannon Revell-Blair, Simone Smith, Shakiah Tungai, Rebecca Young.