How 'The Simpsons' delivered a Jillaroos star

As a 22-year-old living in Bega waiting for The Simpsons to start, Kezie Apps knew nothing of women's rugby league and the existence of a World Cup until a 10-second piece on the news changed her life forever.

Australia had never won a Women's World Cup prior to 2013 but for many years barely anyone knew they were even playing. The 2013 campaign was the first time that Australia's best female footballers didn't have to pay their own way to play.

That win and the insistence by former NRL CEO Dave Smith that the women's game receive a more prominent place in the NRL landscape not only brought exposure but opportunity for girls like Apps who didn't know there was one.

Four years after that fateful news grab and Apps will start the Women's Rugby League World Cup as arguably the tournament's biggest star and with a standing as the best running forward the women's game has ever seen.

Growing up in a rugby league-obsessed house on the New South Wales south coast with two brothers who were promising footballers in their own right (Deon Apps played two games for South Sydney in 2011), Apps played junior footy alongside Storm forward Dale Finucane before having to give the game away at 12 due to age restrictions.

But when the local news showed just the briefest of packages highlighting the Jillaroos' 2013 World Cup triumph a decade later, Apps set her life on a new course.

"I'm pretty sure I was waiting for The Simpsons to come on and I heard 'women's rugby league' and 'World Cup'," Apps recalled whilst in camp on the Gold Coast with the Jillaroos ahead of next week's World Cup opener against the Cook Islands.

"I looked up and saw that there and it definitely changed my life forever.

"I had no idea about the Jillaroos. I had no idea women's rugby league even existed until that moment.

"Four years ago when I saw the girls on the news that they'd won the World Cup, that was my inspiration to get into women's rugby league.

"Just that little 10-second snippet on the news when I saw them with that World Cup trophy, I did some of my own research to try and find out more about it and to see where I could play footy."

Within 12 months of seeing a Jillaroos side boasting legends such as Karyn Murphy, Tahnee Norris and Nat Dwyer break New Zealand's 13-year stranglehold, Apps had announced herself in the women's game in extraordinary fashion.

In her first season of open-age competition she was named the Illawarra Women's Player of the Year, NSW Women's Player of the Year and was selected to make her Jillaroos debut against New Zealand in Wollongong.

Two years later and as an entrenched member of the Jillaroos team Apps became just the second recipient of the Dally M Medal for Female Player of the Year.

Her ever-present smile, bubbly personality and deadly lines that she runs at opposition teams' edge defences has made the now 26-year-old one of a growing number of Jillaroos with prominent profiles in the rugby league community.

A Dragons ambassador, Apps is regularly rubbing shoulders with rugby league royalty and inspiring the generation of girls that will follow her that they too can be Jillaroos with dreams of World Cup glory.

"The last four years, the journey I've gone on is something that I will never forget," Apps said.

"I've made some really good friends from it and I've got some really good memories and experiences and I've loved every minute of it. 

"To be in the position now to hopefully come December 2 hold up that World Cup is insane."