Secret weapon behind Indigenous Women's win
After a historic first-ever win for the Indigenous Women's All Stars over the World All Stars, coach Dean Widders revealed his message to the players that would get them the win and it was nothing to do with what happened on the field.
"We wanted to make this camp the best ever camp and it was all about how we impressed the people we ran into," Widders said after the 14-4 victory.
"I said to the girls, if the hotel staff and the bus driver tell us you're the best bunch of girls they've ever had, we'll win the game.
"Today, when we walked out of our hotel we had about 12 hotel staff on each side clap these girls onto the bus. We've just worked hard on what we represent and who we are as a group of people.
"We're playing for our people here and it showed through in the game where these girls just would not let [the World team] win. They just refused to quit, they got to every point they had to and it shows the spirit they've got and what these jerseys mean to them and what this week means to them."
It was a philosophy bought into by all the players.
Centre and Jillaroo Caitlyn Moran, who helped create two of her team's three tries, said the importance of culture wasn't lost on any of the players.
"We have massive values – honesty, selflessness and the legacy we want to leave behind," Moran said.
"The community visits and school visits and everything for our mobs back home in the remote communities, the legacy we leave behind and it showed. That's what we wanted to do and we've started it."
Widders said the players wouldn't have won those little moments the way they did without the spirit behind it.
"I think they just showed they had the heart, they wanted to be there. For us this was a mountain to climb because we've never been anywhere close to beating this team before and they've still got all their star players in there but today our girls showed they really belong on this stage and that they're the equivalent of some of the players playing with the Jillaroos."
As important as the cultural side of it is, there has still been a massive improvement for the Indigenous Women's team in recent years in terms of fitness and professionalism throughout the set-up.
"We've been working hard on that over the last few years, to make our program more professional and getting them up to standard," Widders said.
"These girls have still got to go and do the work and do the training themselves. They live all over the place. We've got a girl there (try-scoring debutant Samartha Leisha) who's a single mother of five, people mixing jobs and training and kids and all those sort of things and they’ve been sensational."
He praised the efforts of all the debutants, with two more – wingers Tahlia Hunter and Suvannah Connors – also scoring tries.
"It's the future of women's footy. The young girls coming through are sensational, they love their rugby league, they're athletic, they're professional. That's what this game's inspired, that's what the Jillaroos have inspired," Widders said.
The only sour note for his team was a potentially serious injury to back-rower Kandy Kennedy, who was forced from the field in a medicab after her leg was twisted awkwardly in a tackle.
"She'll probably have to go for some scans and see where it's at. I'm disappointed for her because she was having an outstanding game. Hopefully it's not too bad," Widders said.
"She's worked hard to get back in the team, she deserves it. I still think if we can get her back on the field there's bigger rep honours for her in the next 12 months."