Dally M Female Player of the Year Kezie Apps believes she and her teammates share a bond by the choices they make to ensure the further development of the women's game.
Speaking at the Dally M Awards on Wednesday night, the New South Wales and Jillaroos back-rower knows a thing or two about making hard choices considering her well-documented 10-hour round trip from Bega to Helensburgh to play every weekend.
Apps – unwilling to label anything as a sacrifice – has racked up an impressive resume of achievements since kick-starting her rugby league career at the beginning of 2014.
Just a fortnight ago, Apps received the Women's New South Wales State Player of the Year and in August featured for St George Illawarra in the inaugural NRL women's Nines fixture.
Apps also joked she taught Melbourne Storm grand finalist and fellow Bega product Dale Finucane "everything he knows" in the junior grades.
Nominated alongside Jillaroos skipper Ruan Sims, Sam Bremner, Simaima Taufa and Brittany Breayley, Apps couldn't believe her luck when announced as the second woman to win the award.
With a mortgage to pay and a career as a personal trainer to balance, Apps's choices continue to pay dividends.
"When we're selected for representative teams – it's not actually our jobs – so we know what one another go through to get into that position to be the best we can be," Apps told NRL.com.
"Some have kids and have to juggle their work life, their family life and everyday things. We have to fork out too. I can't afford very much. Gym memberships and physio sessions. I don't even go to the physio because I can't afford it.
"Little things like runners and boots we buy ourselves just to be able to play the game. So when we get into camps and get together it makes it so much more special. This is why this award means so much to me.
"Everyone was telling me to make sure I had my speech ready and I was like 'don't be stupid, did you see who was also nominated?' To take out the award, I'm blown away."
While work and rugby league don't always go hand in hand, life as a personal trainer at Bega's Universal Fitness Studio has provided Apps a new lease on life on the paddock in 2016.
"A huge reason why I think I've gone so well this year is because I've changed my job. The owner Shaun has helped me a lot with my eating and my training," she said.
"My recovery has been a lot better as a result. I've had fewer injuries so that's certainly helped so much in my game this year."
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