Rebecca Young couldn’t have asked for many better ways to say goodbye to her Indigenous story in the NRL Women’s All Stars series—after nine appearances over the past decade, Newcastle’s reigning queen of footy is hanging up her rep boots.
There can be no denying Bec has had a heavy hand in building the women’s rugby league community in the Hunter. It’s been ten years since she first started on her journey, and now it’s “perfect timing” to say goodbye, she told NRL.com.
“It’s been a great journey. This marks 10 years since the start of the All Stars women’s concept and where I had the opportunity to first start my elite-level career… I believe this to be one of my greatest achievements,” she said.
Being able to represent her family, community, and Indigenous women across Australia in the All Stars series is a “massive honour,” she added, and to crown that with a 10–4 win over their Maori rivals is a perfect way to call time on it all.
And what a send-off it was. Built on defensive prowess, the Indigenous side carved out the six-point triumph with guts, determination, and a “love of being able to pull on the colours that represent heritage and family,” the departing star said.
Young ended up smack bang in the centre of that defence. She played a hefty 44 of the 60 minutes in the battle, and added three tackle breaks, 50 metres made—eight post-contact—and 16 tackles. It was another of her iconic workhorse performances.
She was joined in the rep contest by a host of other Newcastle stars too. Bobbi Law played most of the game in the number 5 jersey, running 76 metres, and explosive youngster Caitlan Johnston chipped in 19 tackles as the team’s other prop.
Newcastle champ Simone Smith also played a major role in the halves, guiding the Aussie cohort around opposite Racene McGregor. From five-eighth, Smith controlled the game with her long-ranged kicks. She led a series of second-quarter raids.
In the end, it was Nakia Davis-Welsh who proved the difference. The 23-year-old winger set up one of the team’s tries, before diving over to ice the victory in the 47th minute. Her contributions confirmed what Young has believed for some time.
Read more recent news
- Matildas to play for Tokyo future at McDonald Jones Stadium
- ‘Desperate’ Victory held the key over hapless Newcastle: Wilson
- Ebzery opens up on “overwhelming” Olympics qualifying campaign
Newcastle’s queen of footy said she can be nothing but “proud” to see so many young Indigenous stars “coming through the pathways,” from match-breaking Davis-Welsh, to hometown compatriots Law and Johnston. It warms the 38-year-old’s heart.
“I’m so proud to see all the young Indigenous players coming through the pathways. As players the All Stars gives us the opportunity to showcase the talent that we all possess and the young inspiring women within our communities,” she said.
“It’s a great concept and presents opportunities for players to be looked at for other elite teams. The Indigenous All Stars also gives us an opportunity to celebrate those Indigenous greats that came before us and paved the way in rugby league.”
And as for her own personal crowning moment as she takes stock of a lengthy decade of representative journeys and challenges for Australia and the Indigenous community? Well, she can’t ignore the All Stars battle right in the heart of her hometown.
“I can’t go past 2017,” she said. “We played where I call home in Newcastle in front of all my family and friends, captaining the side to a memorable first-ever win at McDonald Jones Stadium and being able to lift the trophy for the first time.”