South Grafton star earns place in NSW Country Women's team
RUGBY LEAGUE: Earlier this season, Shellie Long was named best on the field for North Coast Bulldogs and presented with a signed Jillaroos jumper after her team finished runners up in the Women's Country Rugby League Championships.
Now she has the chance to play with and against some of the names on that jumper, after the 18-year-old was picked to represent the CRL Women's Country team to play in the National Championships at Burleigh on the Gold Coast between Thursday, May30, and Sunday, June 2.
Picked to play alongside women's rugby league stars such as Ruan Sims, Kezie Apps and Isabelle Kelly, Long learned she'd been selected earlier this week when friends tagged her on the CRL Facebook post announcing the team.
"The email telling me that I had been picked in the team went into my spam folder and I was wondering why all my friends were tagging me in this post until I looked and found my name,” Long said.
"It actually made my day.
"I was at work and having a bit of a bad day and then when I saw that I was so happy.”
Long said she would fly down to Sydney in two weeks' time for a one-day training camp, before returning in time to take the field for the South Grafton Rebels Ladies League Tag team in the local derby clash against the Grafton Ghosts.
With some of the biggest names in women's rugby league set to take to the field for the Women's National Championships, Long said the opportunity to learn from the best in the game was incredible.
"There are some big names in the Country side and I get to play against some of the other big names,” she said.
"Hopefully I get to play against Heather Ballinger. She's my idol, so fingers crossed.
"It's just really exciting to think that I'll be playing with and against some of the best players in the game.”
Long only took up the fullback role in the past year and while she is new to the position has already made it her own, though she said she would be happy to play anywhere for Country.
"I'll found out what position I'll play when I train in Sydney, but any position in that team will be good,” she said.
After representing the North Coast Bulldogs in the CRL Championships this season, Long's selection in the Country side has put her one step closer to her dream of playing in the NRLW.
"Hopefully this competition will allow me to be picked for State of Origin, women's NRL and the Australian Jillaroos.
"So I'm hoping I can earn a contract, but at the end of the day I'm really grateful to be in this team,” she said.