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Juanita Woodhouse has been a part of Auckland rugby league for more than 20 years.

She is the women charged with making rugby league happen every weekend in Auckland, and these days one of the most recognisable and popular figures in the local New Zealand game.

A member of the Auckland Rugby League staff since 1995, Juanita Woodhouse was only meant to stay for a couple of years, but has instead evolved from "a glorified receptionist" to become the organisation's football administration manager.

From running the draw to processing player transfers, she oversees 560 teams across 32 clubs in New Zealand's biggest rugby league district.

"I had just finished school when I started at the ARL and I wanted a job just for a couple of years as an office worker, I thought that would be just fine," Woodhouse told

"Obviously I have kept coming back, mostly because of the people, and there have been huge changes in that time.

"I was there from the time when they did the draws manually by hand, now we do it all through a tracked online system.

"By now I have been there, done that, seen it all."

The man who hired Juanita all those years ago, current ARL football manager Pat Carthy, spoke of her enduring commitment to the game, regardless of the level.

"She has been amazing, she has been there from day one and Juanita just evolved to become a key part of the place," Carthy said.

"Any time you need help, when you need propping up, Juanita will come and do it.

"She will help out on committees, help out the ladies, the masters, her time off she spends strapping players at the Manurewa club and even when we go out somewhere she is still working and emailing.

"I don't even think she knows how to relax.

"I remember once when she was in hospital, we had to turn off her emails so she couldn't access them or the work drive from her bed.

"That is the type of person she is and you can't beat that experience and knowledge."

Like so many of the stories shared through this Harvey Norman Women in League Round, Woodhouse's one features plenty selfless contribution.

Most nights after working a full day at the Auckland Rugby League offices she then jumps in her car and heads out to her local club the Manurewa Marlins, to help out free of charge.

On any given week through the season she completes at least 15 hours of volunteer work, cooking the post-match meals for home games, assisting with database issues, strapping the premier and premier reserve players before games, or whatever else pops up.

Previously Juanita held almost every role that exists at the club, from treasurer, secretary, referee, match manager and even coaching her sons' teams when they were younger.

It doesn't stop when she finally gets home either – with husband Darrell being the Manurewa club's chairperson, rugby league is pretty much an around-the-clock topic.

"I am still involved with strapping the Marlins' two premier teams, and often the women on Sundays when they need a hand," Woodhouse said.

"It's a couple of nights a week and usually most of the weekend, regardless of what job needs doing."

Having been involved with the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns women's side for over 13 years – again as an enthusiastic volunteer – Woodhouse has enjoyed watching the female arm of the game grow significantly through that period.

From the early days when staff and players had to make their own lunches for Test matches, the women's game is now an ingrained part of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines programme and enjoys a profile which was pie in the sky stuff when Woodhouse first started.

In addition to countless Tests and training camps, she toured with the team in the 2003, 2008 and 2013 at the Women's Rugby League World Cup.

"It has been amazing to watch, and a long time coming," she said.

"There are still a lot of things those girls still have to do that male players don't, but the fact that they are getting a lot more coverage than they used to is good.

"The staff who work with them now are really lucky, they don't have to do all the stuff we used to have to – we did our own cooking, we did the whole lot ourselves.

"The Women in League concept has been great in terms of encouraging women to give the game a go at so many different levels, player, coach, referee, whatever.

"There are more and more of them who are starting to take a bit more involvement in it and they aren’t just managing and stuff.

"Women can coach just as well as man, and I have noticed there is a little trend of more and more women coaching the junior grades in Auckland."

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