One of Australia’s best rugby league players made a special appearance in the Highlands this week.
Jillaroo and 2017 Dally M Female Player of the Year Simaima Taufa stopped by Moss Vale Dragons training on Tuesday night to help out the Ladies League Tag team.
With a young team, the Dragons have struggled in the Group 6 competition and have yet to find a win this year.
The Mounties lock made a surprise visit to help out the girls at training and show them a few of the basic drills.
The visit was organised by parent Nicole East who got in contact with the NRL to see if they could help the girls out.
“I thought it would give them a little bit of motivation,” she said.
For Taufa, getting back to grassroots football is something she loves doing.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have players or mentors that came back and shared their knowledge and experience,” she said.
“That’s what I want to be for these girls and I love giving back.”
While it has been a difficult year for the young side, Taufa said players would learn more from their losses than from any win.
“Losing teaches you a lot- about being resilient and having to overcome that.
“You make a lot of memories and friends from going through those losses.
“So sometimes when you do lose you tend to learn a lot more about yourself and your teammates.”
She said ball skills and footwork were two of the basic skills the girls could focus on to help them improve.
But for her, the most important thing was to enjoy playing the sport.
“The last thing you want to do is come play rugby league and make it feel like it’s a chore.”
Taufa made her debut for the Jillaroos against the Kiwi Ferns in 2014.
She represented Australia at the 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup.
The Ladies League Tag team is coached by Dylan Readman and Aiden Menzies and Readman said the visit had been very beneficial for the side.
“She [Taufa] got involved with the drills and just showed the girls some basic stuff like what line to run and how to draw the pass,” he said.
“The girls were pretty impressed with her.”
So sometimes when you do lose you tend to learn a lot more about yourself and your teammatesSimaima Taufa
While it has been a tough year for the Dragons, Readman, who has only been involved with the side for a couple of weeks, said they had “definitely improved” since the start of the season.
“[At the start] they didn’t know structure or what to do,” Readman said.
“We need someone to steer them around on the field.”
With only two players in the team over the age of 20, Readman said Taufa’s visit had made the girls keen to continue playing and were more aware of the pathways available to them in rugby league.
Moss Vale ladies will have the bye this weekend before the Dragons host Oakdale Workers at home on May 27.