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She might be one of the best female rugby league players in the world, but Jillaroos fullback Sam Bremner was nearly lost to the game before her career even started.  

Forced to play netball for most of her junior years, Bremner only started playing rugby league when she was 18. In the years since, she has won a World Cup (where she was named Player of the Tournament) and has seen the women's game grow rapidly across the country. 

"I loved rugby league my whole life and I always wanted to play, but my mum wouldn't let me," Bremner told

"When I turned 18 I heard there was a competition down in the Illawarra region. I got all my friends to go there and convinced them to give rugby league a go. To my surprise they all said yes.

"From then on, I just kept playing and was fortunate enough to get selected into rep squads and things like that and just kept learning the game. Here I am today."

Speaking at the NRL's Harmony Day Festival in Merrylands, Bremner says the women's game has come a long way from its humble beginnings. 

"We had six teams when I first started, but no one knew of it. I think that's the difference between now and then, which is only a course of five years," she said. 

"Everybody now knows of the two competitions in NSW for women. They know of the Jillaroos. They know there's Origin for women as well. When I first started, no one knew of any of that or the opportunities we had.

"Illawarra is a competition based around Wollongong. I think the most northern team is Helensburgh, and the southernmost team is Bomaderry. There are four teams in that competition at the moment. They play full 13-a-side rules. 

"Then we've got the NSW comp, which is put into two tiers. The first tier is 13-a-side, while the second tier is nine-a-side. They play throughout Sydney and out to the Central Coast, Greenacre, Penrith, so that's really quite a large competition with about 16 teams. 

"We've come a long way from only having two small comps, to now having two big competitions with three tiers."

With female participation steadily growing each year, Bremner hopes to one day see a national competition that could feature links to each of the 16 NRL clubs. 

"I really hope so. I think it's something we're all striving for," the speedy fullback said. 

"We're a lot closer than where we were last year and the year before that. Every year is a step forward, and I believe the NRL is really supporting us. 

"They're a really good foundation, the NRL, and as long as they believe in us, the women's game will always be strong."

Having achieved so much in such a short space of time, Bremner has some sage advice for any women thinking about playing rugby league. 

"It would be to say yes to any opportunity that is thrown your way, because you don't know where you could end up by just saying yes," she said.  

"You might get asked to come to a training session, and it might be a waste of time. But on the other hand, you might be at a session that kick-starts your future and you could end up as fortunate as I am doing what I am today."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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