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Legend Q&A: Rebecca Young

Rebecca Young and the rugby league community in Newcastle go hand in hand.

The born-and-bred Novocastrian has spent her entire life in the Hunter and more than a decade helping usher through talent in the women's game.

Her passion for the Indigenous culture is also second to none with the mum-of-two a proud Worimi woman who has represented the All Stars side on eight occasions.

On Saturday, Young will line up for her ninth and final appearance in the representative space to cap off a stellar 10-year career.

NRL.com caught up with Young leading into the clash on the Gold Coast.

Legend Q&A - Rebecca Young

You've decided the All Stars clash will be your last representative game after a decade at the elite level – that must be a surreal feeling for you?

It's been a great journey and I thought it was the perfect timing. The clash will mark 10 years since the start of the All Stars women's concept and where I had the opportunity to first start my elite level career. Trialling for that first ever team five weeks after having my first baby and being able to represent my family, the community and Indigenous women since the start of the great concept until now is a massive honour and I believe this to be one of my greatest achievements. I'm looking forward to playing back on the Gold Coast and finishing my rep career where it all began for me 10 years ago.

As mentioned, you're a proud Indigenous woman and their most capped women's player, how rewarding is it to see the development coming through the women’s pathways?

I'm so proud to see all the young Indigenous players coming through the pathways. As players the All Stars gives us the opportunity to showcase the talent that we all possess and the young inspiring women within our communities. It's a great concept and presents opportunities for players to be looked at for other elite teams. The Indigenous All Stars also gives us an opportunity to celebrate those Indigenous greats that came before us and paved the way in rugby league.

What's been your most memorable moment in the Indigenous All Stars jersey?

I can't go past 2017. We played where I call home in Newcastle in front of all my family and friends, captaining the side to a memorable first ever win at McDonald Jones Stadium and being able to lift the trophy for the first time.

You made your debut for the Jillaroos against Samoa in 2011 to become Jillaroo #117 – what do you remember about that game?

A lot of random things. It was the first time leaving my baby and it was a really hot day. There were uncontrollable emotions - pride, fear of the unknown, being the newbie, rooming with Tahnee Norris and giving 100 percent. We won the game and I played alongside my sister Julie which made it extra special. We travelled on Samoan buses with an amazing squad of great players but more importantly great people off the field.

Bec Young.
Bec Young. ©NRL Photos

Graham Murray also handed you your Test cap that day, it must be nice to look back on now?

He was an amazing person, who helped believe in and move the women's game to where it is today - teaching us values and life lessons and the ability to play some great footy. I'll never forget that opportunity and time in my career.

You were part of both the 2013 and 2017 World Cup squads but unfortunately missed both finals – that must've come with mixed emotions for each occasion?

Both campaigns were completely different in regards to circumstance, all I can say is I gave all I had in training, camps and the World Cup round games that I played in and I felt like I never let that jersey down.

In the end I'm extremely honoured and fortunate to have been in the position position where I was selected as one on the best players in Australia for over an eight-year period.

I completed this while creating a family of two children with my supportive husband while working, running a family business, training and helping develop grassroots footy in Newcastle and the Hunter region, all during this time-frame. I'm super proud just to have been a part of the history books.

Speaking of your marriage to former Knight Mick Young - is there anything other than rugby league discussed in the household?

No, there's not a whole lot of switching off from any of us. We're all very dedicated to the game and I'm looking forward to giving back to our local community. 

You've been working with the Knights to help push for a team in the Holden Women's Premiership – how realistic is that goal from your perspective?

We see it as a very realistic for the near future. It's so great to see how proactive the Knights are towards hopefully one day having an NRLW team.

The community of Newcastle have always and will be supportive and inclusive of the women's game. I believe that the Knights have done this the right way in growing their players from a grassroots level first.

Bec Young
Bec Young ©Scott Davis

I had the opportunity in 2017 to captain the first ever Knights team in a Nines exhibition match against Cronulla and saw it as a stepping stone for the future. They have demonstrated support to pathways including school contracts, academies, touch footy and junior development. We've also got a strong Tarsha Gale Cup team and this year potentially an under 16s and open women’s tackle competition.

We have some great talent in Newcastle that will reach the highest level one day. There are over 15 players that have represented either the All Stars, Australia, NSW or the NRLW that have come through our coaching and pathway systems.

How do you want to be remembered amongst your teammates and peers?

That I was reliable and passionate about the game and am in the position to create opportunities for other girls and women to play footy and fight for what’s right for the game.

That I earned all my jerseys through 100 percent commitment - completing every training session, playing all club games and worked hard.

But most importantly, that I was here for my teammates off the field whenever and what ever they needed me for.