Inspiration behind Jillaroo McGregor

Despite playing in the backyard with four brothers during her childhood, Jillaroos utility Corban McGregor is a self-confessed late bloomer to rugby league.  

The 23-year-old was a talented sportsperson growing up with keen interests in touch football and netball, but never had the junior pathways on offer that her brothers did. 

League was hardly on the radar, and she was soon tempted to give sport away altogether, particularly when a life-changing moment came along six years ago – the birth of her son Carter. 

"It was a surprise, but surreal," McGregor said of having Carter at a young age. 

"He's changed my life for the better, it's not just about myself. 

"But I had an awesome support network that made sure I still played sport because of the talent I had."

Carter joined local team Cronulla Caringbah and McGregor highlighted a women's game in 2014 as the turning point that sparked her career.

Australian teammates Maddie Studdon and Sam Bremner approached McGregor and encouraged her to join up with women's side the Helensburgh Tiger Lillies. 

"I started playing after he [Carter] was born," McGregor said. 

"Watching him play made me realise that I love it and hope he has that same passion. He's at every game. I get to watch him on the weekends as well."

McGregor said it was important to continue the process of mirroring the same pathways available to Carter for young female rugby league players.

The Sharks representative has an overall goal of playing in a women's NRL competition within five years. 

"The unbroken pathway that girls don't have to stop playing when they're 12 will help the women's game," McGregor said. 

"Lots of girls in our team had to stop playing and go off to netball or other sports. They're lost to the game and only a few return. I'd like to think there will be similar pathways available to young girls the same way there is for Carter in years to come so that doesn't happen anymore.

"Just give it a go, when I first started I was nervous but it's the best fun playing rugby league.

"The game is awesome and it's modified to be safe for you. I can't explain how great it is."