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Meg Ward can't help but light up when speaking about former World War II veteran Patrick Broadfoot before Anzac Day with rugby league put on the back burner for the special occasion each year.

The pair weren't related by blood but shared a special bond that the 22-year-old Jillaroo could only describe as that of a grandfather to grandchild.

Broadfoot served in the second World War and shared stories with Ward which inspired the winger to chase her goals.

Ward has been juggling her time between playing sport and serving as a firefighter in the Defence Force for the last two years.

"He wasn't my grand-dad officially but very much was," Ward told

"He had a lot of stories, Patty. He was such a big part of our family. He'd been through a lot and seen a lot. Hearing his stories was a big part of me joining the Defence Force.

"He was a gunner. They would boss him around to go do things they wouldn't do or knew were dangerous. Or build things over that period.

Meg Ward (left) and Talesha Quinn with a representative playing the bugle ahead of Anzac Day.
Meg Ward (left) and Talesha Quinn with a representative playing the bugle ahead of Anzac Day. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"It went on for about seven months so a long time for someone to be controlled by other people. Anzac Day for him each year was everything. He has all these medals and was proud of them, it was a big time of the year for him."

Broadfoot died in 2016, but was with Ward when she completed her final duties.

"The pride that I have that he was proud when I graduated from recruits is something I'll always carry with me," she said.

"My family had a real influence. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to be a firefighter but knew how difficult the process would be so my family suggested to do it through the ADF.

"I'm now a part of something so much bigger. I'm proud as a firefighter and without us there the pilots can't fly. We're a part of something so much bigger."

Jillaroos teammate Talesha Quinn completed her post in the army more than 2100 kilometres away from Ward in Townsville.

She now works in logistics since moving to Sydney and credited the strict regime for helping shape her life on and off the rugby league paddock.

"The army for me was a massive wake-up call," Quinn said.

"Every day I woke up and thought, 'why am I here, why am I doing this?' but it did get easier. I'd been to university twice before I joined. I was struggling to get a job. Being from the country and being a tomboy, I felt I was a fit for the army.

"Anything from waking up at 5am with the sheets over our shoulders every morning, we had 15 minutes to have a shower, make our sheets, fold our clothes to certain centimetres, the corner of the bed had to be a certain way.

"Everything in the draws had to be the same as the person next to you by no more than a millimetre. No hands in your pockets, no yawning, no eye contact with any of the instructors.

"The first two weeks everyone gets in trouble because you don't know what you're doing and I think that's where teamwork comes in a lot. If you don't work together in anything there is always extra training, not just you but everyone. People correct themselves, your roommate will tell you." 

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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