Randall ready to make history with Bulldogs
RUGBY LEAGUE: At 35-years-old, Lower Clarence rugby league lover Mishika Randall was unsure she would ever get to be part of the success of women's rugby league.
After being ingrained in the sport since she was a young kid growing up on the banks of the Clarence River, Randall had taken every opportunity to impart her knowledge on the game.
From coaching juniors to guiding the introduction of the ladies' league tag at the Lower Clarence Magpies, Randall was there to see it all.
But all the while she could sense a dawning of a new era for women in league on the North Coast.
That era has come, and unsurprisingly Randall will be at the centre of it as she lines up for the North Coast Bulldogs in the inaugural women's tackle Country Championships.
"To be part of this side and this moment, it is an honour,” Randall said. "It is mind blowing, this is what I have wanted to do for my whole life.
"It has been a long time coming. I always knew this opportunity for women would come but I just thought I wouldn't be there playing in it.”
It is also perfect timing a day after International Women's Day.
"This is everything for the sport, I was never going to give up on this dream, but I worried I would be unfit for it,” she said.
"I am 35-years-old but I feel like a 16-year-old all over again. Mind you, I will probably feel about 50 after the game.”
In the opening round of the Country Championships, the North Coast Bulldogs will face off against Greater Northern Tigers at Geoff King Motors Oval.
The Bulldogs side, which features fellow South Grafton Rebels duo Karri Williams and Shellie Long, have been training together since January, including a gruelling two-day camp in oppressive heat in Wauchope.
"It has been full on since we got together,” Randall said. "I went to the sessions in Wauchope and the temperatures nearly killed me, but it was worth it.”
"I have worked so hard for this opportunity. I had a personal trainer on me over the summer and I have lost eight kilos and feel the best I ever have.”
Randall will come off the bench for the Bulldogs in the clash with a mission to go "straight up the guts”.
The day at Coffs Harbour will also be a watershed moment for Country Rugby League with senior Country Championships (under-23 and womens) being played alongside the junior representative fixtures (Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley Cups). All the action will kick off from 10am today at Geoff King Motors Oval.