Growing the game in Perth

Growing the game in Perth

She works tirelessly to grow the greatest game of all in the country's most remote capital city, going above and beyond her day-to-day role at NRL WA. 

But Barbra-Anne Wooley wouldn't have it any other way.

Born in Rotorua, New Zealand, Wooley moved to Perth 17 years ago and joined the NRL WA in the past three years as an administrative coordinator where she has caught the attention of the visiting NRL clubs' executives, most notably Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly.

Souths have grown their ties with Perth over the past nine years, having taken a home game across the Nullarbor every year since 2009.

Given the size of a traveling NRL party it's never easy moving a Telstra Premiership fixture away from the game's usual venues, but Wooley has made that process far more seamless when South Sydney have travelled west.

From coordinating local junior teams for half-time entertainment, sourcing sideline bikes, organising doubles and raffles sellers as well as other match day tasks, Wooley has proved to be the Rabbitohs' go-to woman on the ground in Perth and Solly is grateful for her unwavering support to the game.

"Barbra-Anne's enthusiasm is one thing that's infectious, her willingness to do almost anything to make our game in Perth a success," Solly told NRL.com.

"Her role is so crucial because we're not on the ground 24/7 in Perth, we're reliant on her and people like John Sackson who do a lot of the organisation and make sure when we get to Perth the preparation has been really sound and solid.

"Her attention to detail, her work ethic, relationships with other stakeholders on the ground is just fantastic and makes our job so much easier."

Why then does she go beyond her usual role to ensure the NRL sides are looked after when visiting town? The answer, according to Wooley, is simple.

"We get a bit more profile… That buzz of a game on," Wooley told NRL.com. 

"You get to see those kids who are having a fantastic time in getting to meet players they wouldn't normally get to meet as well as having the buzz of a team in town and playing rugby league.

"I'm really proud to be working in the field... not everyone can go into their office and chat about the results from the weekend or what we're doing with regards to our work.

"I'm very thankful for that."

The Rabbitohs have reaffirmed their commitment to the state, leading the way as the NRL prioritises growth in the region.

According to Solly, South Sydney is more than happy to continue its near decade-long support of the game in Western Australia.

"It's a key area for us, we have a long-term commitment to Perth, we work really well with NRL WA," Solly explained. 

"It's an area where we've got almost a thousand members now because we've had that long-term approach to it, we love going there for our games.

"We took the leap of faith and really believed in it. Like most areas where we go we like to do things on a long-term basis.

"It's why people like Barbra-Anne are so important to us. Developing a great relationship with Barbra-Anne so she would support our efforts on the ground 365 days a year has been crucial." 

With two Rugby League World Cup fixtures at nib Stadium (Wales v Ireland, England v France) at the end of the year the game continues to go from strength to strength in Perth, Wooley is proud of being able to help the Rabbitohs in their home away from home.

"I just love the fact that the teams come over here and we're able to do what we can to support it," she said.

"It all helps our cause of getting people playing and participating in rugby league."