Women’s rugby league pioneer, former Jillaroo, and Chair of the ARLC Indigenous Rugby League Katrina Fanning unveiled a plaque at Steelers Club on Friday, paying tribute to the 25 Illawarra Women’s Rugby League Players who have progressed from senior and junior competitions to become Australian Jillaroos.
Over 12 months in the making the ceremony, fittingly held in the week acknowledging International Women’s Day, was attended by dignitaries including Councillor Gordon Bradbury, Lord Mayor, City of Wollongong, Councillor Tania Brown, Deputy Lord Mayor, and Steelers Director, and many past and present players.
“The Illawarra District has such a proud rugby league pedigree, and it has been on show since 1911,” Steelers Chairman Graeme Gulloch said.
“Today we pay tribute to pioneers and to those who have followed, all reaching the pinnacle in rugby league – representing our country.”
“We have always been blessed with a wealth of talent and rightfully the Illawarra has the reputation as the Nursery of Champions.”
The plaque will be permanently and publicly displayed at the entrance of the Steelers Club alongside the Steelers Walk of Fame, commemorating the 47 male players from the region who have played for the Kangaroos.
Current St George Illawarra NRLW players Sam Bremner, Kezie Apps, and Jessica Sergis along with the former Illawarra Jillaroo captains, Natalie Dwyer and Julie McGuffie, all now bestowed the same honour as their male counterparts including Bob Fulton, Steve Roach, Graeme Langlands, Mick Cronin, Rod Wishart, Paul McGregor, and John Dorahy to name a few.
(Pictured, L to R) Wayne Bull, Vice-President Operations, Illawarra Metallurgical Coal – Major Sponsor of South32 Illawarra Women’s Rugby League competitions, Julie McGuffie and Amber Cleary, Manager Corporate Affairs, Illawarra Metallurgical Coal.
Gulloch said the time was right to celebrate this significance and the Steelers Board resolved to acknowledge the players who have gone on to play for the Jillaroos from our District.
“Along with these great players we also acknowledge the vision, commitment, and passion of the many people that helped to create the opportunity for girls and women to play rugby league in our District,” Gulloch added.
“We also need to thank the NRL and NSWRL and past and current players for their assistance in compiling the list.
(Pictured: Steelers Chairman, Graeme Gulloch)
“We hope that today is a moment to recognise and honour achievement and we also hope that today will inspire other girls and women to play rugby league and to reach their potential whatever that may be.”