Ferns ambassador excited by Nines return
NRL ambassador and Kiwi Ferns player Georgia Hale is hoping her side can repeat last year's effort of earning bragging rights over the Jillaroos when the two women's teams again take centre stage at Eden Park for the 2016 Downer NRL Auckland Nines.
Anyone who watched last year's instalment will remember the three women's games being among the best of the weekend, right up there with the epic men's final between the Rabbitohs and Sharks.
Hale told NRL.com she remembers being shocked at how big the reception was for the women's team a year ago.
"We were so surprised when we ran out on the field, being a part of the atmosphere and just how much the public wanted to see us and have our autographs and we were just blown away that as female players people wanted to watch and we were recognised so that was pretty cool," Hale said.
She added it was exciting to see how fast the women's game has been developing.
"I haven't been around for too long but I know comparing from what the older girls in my team said it used to be like to what it is now, the profile of players and opportunities for females in rugby league has really taken a step forward so it's quite exciting for what the future holds," she said.
With just two years of rugby league behind her along with plenty of international experience in touch and tag, Hale – who works at the New Zealand Warriors alongside her father and Warriors team manager Laurie Hale – said it made sense to also get involved with the sport off the field, hence applying for a role as an NRL ambassador.
"I'm still quite new to playing rugby league, it's only my second year [but I thought] why not also work in the business," Hale said.
"It's cool to have that balance – you see it on the field then behind the scenes as well so it's quite a good mix.
"We've been Warriors members since day one and my dad [Laurie Hale] is also the team manager of the Warriors so just being in that environment and seeing the culture of the club is a different perspective from just being a daughter and being invited to things to now being a part of it. You just see the passion of New Zealand rugby league."
In terms of her ambassadorship, Hale added: "It's awesome to be in such a positive environment with people who are legends of the game and still a part of the game. Even just speaking with the Jillaroos players, they've very welcoming and it's nice to get their perspective on how the game is going.
Retired Warriors legend and NRL ambassador Jerome Ropati told NRL.com Hale is highly regarded in New Zealand sport.
"She has a reputation in Kiwi sport in general at a very high level, in terms of touch and tag national sides," he said.
"She obviously brings an aspect of what she's learnt over the years to our [ambassador] job and It's good to have a female presence in there too. She can obviously target different audiences that I maybe can't, and she'll be sure to inspire a lot of people."
The Kiwi Ferns will play three games against the Australian Jillaroos at the Downer Auckland Nines.