Aaron Gray stopped off at a Cairns Women's Rugby League training session at Jones Park yesterday (Monday) to join in with some drills and talk football with some young, aspiring footballers.
The visit was organised through Pat Bailey - Cairns District Rugby League Secretary/Operations Manager - and was a good opportunity for local footballers to learn about the experiences they can expect at the top level.
Women's Rugby League in Cairns has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity after producing Jillaroo players Jenny-Sue Hopper, Bianca Ambrum and Heather Ballinger.
"Probably about eight years ago we would have had the biggest women's competition in Queensland and probably Australia," said Pat Bailey, Secretary/Operations Manager of Cairns District Rugby League.
"It slackened off a little bit but now it's back, as you can see we've got numbers. The Indigenous girls up this way are just absolutely brilliant athletes and that shows in what we put on the field.
"It's just quite exciting and it's exciting for the girls as well."
Pat Bailey has been a great proponent for Women's Rugby League in Cairns; playing and volunteering her time over many years to help spread the game.
She's has done so much for Women's Rugby League in Cairns she's had a school tournament trophy named after her; The Pat Bailey Cup! It's an honour for Pat and, characteristically, she's modest about it.
"One of my little ball girls came up to me on Saturday at the Pride game, she's all about eight, and she said 'I'm going to play in a game named after you' and I said 'Oh good darling!'," chuckled Pat.
Aaron Gray's presence in Cairns is providing a buzz ahead of our Round 19 clash with the North Queensland Cowboys at Barlow Park. The July 16th fixture will be the fifth time the Rabbitohs have taken a home match to North Queensland.
"South Sydney have been absolutely brilliant in bringing these games up here," said Pat.
"A lot of the people that can't afford to go to Townsville, they've got everything here. I must thank the South Sydney Rugby League Club for doing what they do."