NRL appoints first female Community Ambassadors
Four female representative players have been appointed as NRL Community Ambassadors, making them the first females to hold such roles.
Ruan Sims, Renae Kunst, Karyn Murphy and Tallisha Harden will be the first females to join legends of the Game including Anthony Minichiello and Nathan Hindmarsh in the NRL's groundbreaking community program.
"Ruan, Renae, Karyn and Tallisha represent the more than 180,000 girls and women who play Rugby League throughout Australia and New Zealand," said NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg.
"Female participation rates have increased by nearly a third (31 percent) in the past 12 months alone, and we believe today's appointment will further raise the profile of women within our great Game.
"Karyn captained the Jillaroos for 13 years – she's Rugby League's longest-serving representative captain and her achievements should be celebrated and promoted throughout the community.
"The positive impact that the NRL Community program has had throughout Australia and New Zealand over the years has been extraordinary. The addition of these four women as Ambassadors will further strengthen our potential to create social change and grow the Game from the grassroots up.
"We look forward to seeing them out in the community delivering health messages, education programs and promoting Rugby League to a new generation of supporters."
A Jillaroo of eight years, Renae Kunst has also represented the Women's All Stars side and is a NRL Development officer in Queensland. This role sees her grow Rugby League in the Mackay community, advocate for more women to join local clubs and raise awareness of key social issues such as bullying.
Brisbane-born Karyn Murphy is a Rugby League legend who captained the Jillaroos for 13 of her 14 years as part of the squad, joining the team in its inaugural year in 1999. Karyn co-captained the 2013 World Cup winning squad and has played in every Women's All-Stars game since its inception until her retirement in 2013.
Tallisha Harden is the youngest of today's new Ambassadors, having played her first Women's Indigenous All Stars game in 2014. Born and raised in Brisbane, Tallisha is also the general manager of the Classic Wallabies Exchange Program, assisting Indigenous Australians to volunteer in Africa and study abroad.
Sister of three NRL players (Tariq, Ashton and Korbin), Ruan Sims is a current Jillaroo and is a regular in the Women's All-Stars side.
"I come from a family that's always been heavily involved in football - even my sister and I played together growing up so it’s a great honour to be appointed as one of the first female NRL Community Ambassadors in a game that has given me so much," said Sims.
"It is a great time for women in Rugby League and I know I speak for the rest of the ambassadors by saying we’re excited to get out into the community and shine the spotlight on the ongoing contributions made by women to this sport."
The appointment of the four women follows the recent additions to the NRL Ambassador team including Jerome Ropati, the first ever New Zealand Ambassador, and Brent Tate, Luke Bailey, Bryan Norrie, Anthony Minichiello and Nathan Merritt.