Sims incident is reality now for women's game: Bremner
Female rugby league players are thriving under the spotlight of the recent World Cup success and the inaugural Women's NRL Premiership in September but have found out the hard way that far more scrutiny accompanies that.
With the recent Dally M Medal voting error involving Jillaroos captain Ruan Sims making headlines this week, the game's players will have to get used to occasional negative publicity as part of the sport's growth.
Sims was verbally attacked on social media with her integrity questioned by many fans after she stood down from her role as a judge for admitting she did not attend the game she voted upon.
Like any male athletes in rugby league, who deal with criticism from social media and traditional outlets on a regular basis, the focus on the women's game is only set to intensify when players become aligned with NRL clubs.
Anyone who has met Sims knows the impact she's had on the female game and Jillaroos star Sam Bremner admitted it was eye-opening to see a teammate come under such abuse for a mistake.
"The more exposure we get the more people are talking and with that, I think we're all beginning to understand it could be negative attention," Bremner told NRL.com.
"In terms of Ru I think she has represented herself really well and is one of the people we look to aspire to because of the way she handles herself. I've been really proud of her this week.
"And eventually the more exposure we get this stuff is going to become inevitable and if anyone is going to handle it, it's going to be Ruan.
"As captain, she's setting the platform that this stuff can happen where you're publicly scrutinised for making a mistake, whether it be off or on the field, and you have to deal with it."
Sims' brother, St George Illawarra forward Tariq Sims, also voiced his support for the Jillaroos veteran because "she is the best big sister in the world, she has spearheaded the women's rugby league game in Australia, and been an inspiration for many young girls out there".
Bremner is set to make her long-awaited return from injury with local club Helensburgh on Saturday after 14 months of injury setbacks.
After missing the Anzac Test match last year through concussion, the final blow came for the 25-year-old when she fractured her leg at training in the lead-up to the opening World Cup fixture against the Cook Islands and missed the entire tournament.
"It's been a long time coming," Bremner said.
"I didn't realise the toll it was taking on me until they told me I could play, I just felt so relieved. I didn't know how caught up and stressed I was about coming back.
"It was the first piece of good news I've had. For the past 14 months I haven't played 80 minutes of football. It's always been bad news. I was starting to think how much more I could take mentally."
Bremner will begin training for Origin pending a successful return, before taking her place in the NSW Country side for the National Championships in June.