Bridie Reeves - Warriors.

Women in League: Bridie Reeves

Two and a half years ago Bridie Reeves risked it all to move across the world and take up a performance analysis internship with the New Zealand Warriors.

In doing so she gave up a steady job as a radiographer in her native UK, leaving behind friends and family in order to pursue her lifelong dream of working in the NRL Telstra Premiership.

It would prove to be the first of many sacrifices Reeves would make in order to contribute to the game of rugby league, at both professional and grassroots levels.

"It was a big gamble for me really, because before coming to Auckland I had completed my undergrad in radiography at Staffordshire University, so I was working over there and earning a decent income and everything," Reeves told NRL.com.

"But I wanted to do this because it was something I had always thought about, I grew up watching the NRL and that was the dream to come over and work here.

"I was an intern pretty much full-time, volunteering for the full season in 2014, and then at the end of the season I got offered a contract to stay."

Ahead of the 10th annual Harvey Norman Women in League Round, Reeves' story is a brilliant example of how far female representation has come in the NRL.

As the club's NRL Performance Analyst, she plays an important role in the engine room of the football department.

From preparing individual reports and statistics on players mid-week, through to running the interchange on game day, it's a high-pressure role which can make all the difference come the crunch minutes in a competition as close as the NRL.

"Basically whatever the coaching staff need in order to get feedback to the players, we help to make that process really smooth," Reeves says.

"On game day I look after the interchange, so when I am in the coaching box we all talk between us and work out our strategy.

"We always have a plan going in but it often changes in the game when players drop off faster than you think, or maybe get a head knock.

"I can just make suggestions and keep an eye on things. 

"New Zealand and the NRL have been fantastic for me… the opportunities have been there and I have been very well supported.

"The women who were role models for me over here were fantastic and all set really high standards."

High praise

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden says over the space of three seasons, Reeves has grown to become an integral part of the football operations at the club.

"Bridie's role has evolved over the last few seasons, she has become a lot more aligned with football now and that is because she showed a lot of insight into the game," McFadden says.

"She plays rugby league so she has got a really good view for the game straight away.

"She has become a very important part of our week-to-week operations in terms of giving performance feedback to players, as well as our game-day analysis.

"It is a challenging environment for women, but she has got all the attributes that allow her to excel in it. She is organised, works very hard and the boys respect the stuff she does. 

"Bridie is incredibly passionate about the game and this organisation… she loves the sport, she loves coaching and playing.

"She is a valuable asset to our club."

Giving back to grassroots league

Reeves, 26, has been involved in rugby league in either playing or coaching capacities since her early teenage years, and previously captained the Yorkshire women's rugby league team as well as being a member of the winning England team at rugby union's inaugural Nations Cup in 2008.

Her dedication to rugby league now extends well past the hours she gets paid for, and in her spare time she can be spotted playing for central Auckland club the Richmond Rovers, regularly taking the field alongside fellow Warriors staff member and current Kiwi Fern Georgia Hale.

In past seasons Reeves also served as assistant coach for the Marist Saints Fox Memorial (Auckland first division) men's premier reserves side.

"I have grown up around league really so that is where the background is," she says.

"I have been really well supported and in terms of popularity, the Kiwi Ferns are really leading the way in New Zealand with their success at the NRL Auckland Nines, and in the 13-a-side game.

"As a result people are really starting to talk about women's rugby league.

"When I first came over I did a lot with both the men's and women's teams at the Marist Saints, but on the weekends we have so many commitments, and with all the travel and everything it can be hard.

"But any spare time I have I love to go back and give something to the grassroots, and it's also good to keep an eye on the young players coming through and to get to know people in the Auckland league community.

"It's back-to-back even during the week with training sessions.

"It goes a bit crazy and I leave the house at 5.30am most days and don't get home until after 9.00pm. 

"It's pretty packed up but it's obviously fun and I love every minute of it."