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Targett's trip from the gridiron to the greatest game of all

Four years after wearing green and gold in the rough and tumble of American Football, Renee Targett is preparing for a debut appearance for NSW in State of Origin rugby league.

Over those four years, Targett has worn many different jerseys.

As well as donning green and gold for Australia in the World Championships of American Football, she has worn the blue and white of the Canterbury Bulldogs and the black and red of the North Sydney Bears.

On June 25 she'll also be able to say she has pulled on the sky blue of NSW.

When Targett returned from representing Australia she had two sports - American football and AFL.

But she needed a break from the gridiron and that's where rugby league entered the equation.

"It is a sport that requires complete dedication," said Targett.

North Sydney Bears player Renee Targett.
North Sydney Bears player Renee Targett. ©Ian Reilly

"I was feeling drained and needed a change. Then I saw an ad that the Bulldogs had posted looking for women to join their rugby league team.

"I went down to check it out and already knew a couple of the other women trying out. After one session, I had fallen in love with the sport."

That newfound love for rugby league has seen Targett play for a number of clubs in the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership including the Bulldogs and the Cabramatta Two Blues.

At the end of 2020, Targett’s manager told her that there might be an opportunity at the Bears.

This is a Rivalry that knows no boundaries

"I was really excited when I found out about that because as an outsider looking in on that team, you could tell that they had a real connection with each other and a positive culture," said Targett.

Since joining the club, Targett has not been disappointed.

"We want to be the best footballers we can be, but we also want to be the best people we can be away from the field," said Target.

"We all really care about each other too, so when you are getting smashed in a game, all you need to do is look to your left or your right and you know the person beside you really has your back.

"That sense of togetherness makes the victories much sweeter."

Targett credits senior players at the club like Shontelle Stowers and Holli Wheeler for their commitment to the next generation of players.

"Shonny and Holly have been great mentors for me and are so passionate about women’s footy," said Targett.

"They all want us to grow and to be better."

After one session, I had fallen in love with the sport

NSW squad member Renee Targett

Since joining the Bears, Targett has noticed improvements in her game. She credits the strength and conditioning program at the Bears for also helping her to become the fittest and strongest she has ever been.

She also has a sneaking suspicion that she has gotten faster. That speed was on show when Targett represented City recently in the City-Country fixture.

Someone else who was watching that day was new Blues coach Kylie Hilder. The new clipboard holder liked what she saw.

For Targett, a spot in the NSW squad like a reward after so many years of pushing to achieve more in rugby league.

"When I got off the phone with Kylie and she told me I had been selected in the team, it was such a mixture of emotions," said Targett.

"I was a bit shocked, I was overwhelmed and I was happy and excited too because it just feels like I’ve been working for this for such a long time.

"To finally have something come through is just a really nice feeling."

NSW seek redemption, Maroons chase back-to-back

Another person extremely proud of Targett and all she has achieved is her niece, Lilly. As well as juggling her footy and her job as a flooring installer, Targett also looks after Lilly full time.

"I’m a different person now because of her and every day is one to be cherished," said Targett.

"She loves coming to watch me play."

But for Targett, it’s about far more than just her niece. She and her teammates are playing for the next generation of women who will have opportunities that Targett did not have growing up.

"For little girls to have role models in their immediate sphere is so important," Targett said.

"Now little girls are seeing women excel across a number of sports and succeeding and achieving their dreams."

 

Women’s Origin tickets are on sale via NRL Tickets. Supporters can watch the historic match from just $5 for juniors, $15 for adults and $35 for families