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The Broader Game: Parents' 4000km commitment on show for Bo

Botille Vette-Welsh hasn't seen her parents in months after they travelled more than 2,000 kilometres in June to beat Queensland's border closures and see their daughter play live.

The trip easily trumped their 14-hour drive to Canberra last year where Vette-Welsh lasted just 10 minutes for the Roosters in the NRLW before limping from the field with a hamstring injury.

Vette-Welsh's parents, Alfred and Dianne, are school teachers at Broken Hill Public School in the central west of NSW but that doesn't stop them from ensuring they get to most of Bo's big career moments.

Their move away from Sydney last year has left Vette-Welsh on her own in Parramatta, where she'll don Eels colours this year, but like many she is planning her next family catch-up once restrictions in Sydney ease.

With a population of just 18,000 people in Broken Hill, word quickly spreads of Vette-Welsh's achievements in rugby league with Alfred a key influence from afar. 

"Just probably not after the day I did my hammy though, I was scared to go off the field that day," Vette-Welsh laughs telling NRL.com.

"My dad quickly reminded me he'd just driven 14 hours to watch me get injured and since then I've been a lot better with my preparation for games.

"He is just a big fan of the game and big support for me but he tells it like it is.

"He just hates missing out and seeing me miss out. I don't like letting him down."

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Alfred and Dianne jumped in a car bound for Sydney airport 36 hours before Vette-Welsh was due to run out for NSW in June but when they stopped at Dubbo news filtered through that more restrictions had hit Sydney.

If they wanted to get into Queensland, they weren't allowed to fly in from Sydney.

"I just expected them to go back to Broken Hill, to be honest, so I didn't think much more of it," Vette-Welsh said.

"I think they considered it for a few minutes but instead they just cancelled their flights and ended up putting maps on and driving to the Sunny Coast.

"It was about 23 hours all up. They hadn't seen me play Origin yet live so it was a big motivator for them.

"They had their dogs with them because they were going to leave them in Sydney so they had to organise for a dog sitter in Queensland as well and changed all their accommodation too.

"I got a text message at 3am to say they'd arrived. I thought they meant back home at Broken Hill but they were just down the road from our hotel."

While Vette-Welsh appeared set to be reunited with her parents for the first time in months, the tightening of biosecurity protocols on game day prevented her from greeting them before or after the game.

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"I felt really bad, we were supposed to have a family function later that night but it got cancelled," she said.

"They actually took home this big cardboard cut-out of me they found at the ground and they took it all the way back to Broken Hill with them.

"Mum still takes photos with it and sends it to me. I know I'll see them again soon and really appreciated their support. I definitely owe them."

Vette-Welsh couldn't have done much more on the paddock to please her parents from afar with a game-high 168 metres and three tackle busts in the loss.

It's the last game the 24-year-old has played with the Jillaroos representative one of many players under strict lockdown in Sydney.

The NRL's reaffirmation that the women's competition will take place at a later time brought music to her ears as the Eels look to build a foundation in their inaugural season.

"When [Eels NRLW Manager] Andy Patmore contacted me to say the Eels were going to be in the competition it hit home because when I first moved to Australia from New Zealand I moved to Parramatta," she said.

"I've lived here for most of my life so it's like a second home.

"Players like Simaima Taufa, she was my first ever guide, she taught me how to play fullback believe it or not.

"She's a big advocate for the western Sydney girls so to be under her leadership and be able to represent a club in our region is something I hold as almost the pinnacle."

Raiders NRLW bid gathers momentum

The Raiders will auction off their Women in League jerseys following Thursday night's clash against Melbourne with all proceeds going towards the club's growing NRLW bid.

The club has set a target goal of raising $300,000 before putting an application forward to the NRL for inclusion in the women's competition from either 2022 or 2023.

Earlier this season the Raiders raised over $120,000 at a fundraising dinner to start their financial commitment towards fielding an NRLW side.

Funds raised will provide financial support to help establish an NRLW academy that includes scholarship programs for players and assist with coaching and support staff development.

The Raiders Foundation's major raffle for the year will also go towards the bid with tickets available for purchase until September 1.

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Jerseys to honour female referees

The NRL's leading match officials will also be wearing specially designed jerseys throughout Harvey Norman Women in League round this weekend with the names of all 556 registered female referees in Australia listed. 

Female rugby league officiating has enjoyed a nine per cent increase across all levels of the game in recent years with Belinda Sharpe and Kasey Badger leading the way at the highest level.

The positive increase coincides with the rapid growth of player participation, which is the highest area of growth for the NRL.

The specially designed jersey match officials will be wearing during Women in League Round.
The specially designed jersey match officials will be wearing during Women in League Round.

Feeney's role in landing Brill-iant Destiny

Maroons young gun Destiny Brill has revealed how Titans coach Jamie Feeney helped make up her mind about joining the club.

Brill was a surprise signing by the Titans after telling Channel Nine in June following her stunning Origin debut that she was set to join the Broncos.

Brill told NRL.com that Feeney's status as Jillaroos assistant coach got her over the line in the end as the 18-year-old eyes higher honours in green and gold.

Feeney is also a teacher at Brill's former high school, Marsden State High.

"I wanted to be part of a team that was starting up and it's good because he is part of the Jillaroos to be guided by him," Brill said.

"It's a good opportunity. He's been really good to train with at school and I think he will be good around helping me with my game."

Roosters leave Caslick door open

The Roosters haven't given up on Charlotte Caslick returning to the club this year for the postponed competition in October.

Caslick is currently in a 14-day quarantine at Howard Springs in Darwin after returning to Australia following the women's unsuccessful rugby sevens Olympics campaign.

In a Q&A on Instagram earlier this week, Caslick offered a "we'll see" response when asked if she was considering another switch to rugby league this season.

NRLW clubs have been given an extended timeframe to fill their squads with plenty of cross-code talent on the radar.

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Roosters feeder finish on top

The Central Coast Roosters can lay claim to finishing the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership as minor premiers but won't get the chance to defend their 2020 title after the grand final was officially abandoned this week.

Several of the Central Coast side have been picked up by Roosters coach John Strange for the NRLW competition to begin in October.

The clash had promised to be a close encounter after the Roosters narrowly escaped with a two-point win in the regular rounds.

The HNWP is set to undergo a revamp in 2022 following a review into the competition. 

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations. 

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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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