Redfern All Blacks star and Jillaroos member, Maddie Studdon believes that Women’s Rugby League is heading in the right direction and is very close to achieving the next big step.
Having played Rugby League for nearly her whole life, Studdon knows a thing or two about the game and has an unparalleled passion for the sport, which stems from her time growing up in the South Sydney ranks.
“I would love a NRL women’s competition, I think that’s where we need to go next,” said Studdon.
The Jillaroos halfback got involved with footy from an early age and is a part of a strong Rugby League family.
“My first involvement in footy was through my Dad,” explained Studdon.
“When I was really young he was coaching for South Sydney Juniors with the SG Ball side and then went on to coach the 18s Mascot team and it was there where I got my first gig in League as the ball girl for Mascot.
“Then when I was four-years-old Mum and Dad put me into a team and I’ve been playing since then.”
Studdon always knew footy was her calling as she ran around mixing it with the boys, mimicking her favourite players and training alongside current France Fullback Mark Kheirahhah.
However it wasn’t easy for the young star who grew up during a time where there were a lack of pathways into a competitive league.
“I played all the way up until I was 12 with Mascot and then I couldn’t play with the boys anymore and there was no other pathway at the time so I went to play Oz Tag and touch.”
To push for an opportunity, Studdon moved down to Helensburgh, New South Wales, where she plied her trade for four years - making lifelong friends and more importantly earning her first Australian call up.
“I loved playing down there and I’ll always remember playing good footy with my mates and most importantly I have mates now who I still play with who are from Helensburgh so I’m grateful for that.”
“I was around 18 at the time but I was definitely the youngest heading into the Jillaroos camp and it was quite daunting.
“But luckily the Jillaroos camp is so welcoming and all the girls are great and I’ve learnt a lot since my time playing with the Jillaroos.”
After her time in Helensburgh, Studdon decided to come back to where she belonged and slotted right into the Redfern All Blacks team.
Since returning to the South Sydney region, Studdon has become a staple part of the Jillaroos setup and played a crucial role in Redfern All Blacks’ first NSW Women’s Premiership title.
“My debut for Australia was probably the most memorable moment I’ve had in my career so far but the Premiership with the All Blacks is pretty close.”
With the Women’s game growing at a rapid rate, Studdon has been happy with the movements the game has made to improve and promote the Women’s arena.
“It’s awesome that we have the Tarsha Gale competition, it’s a fantastic pathway for us women playing open division,” said Studdon.
“Once we have more young girls coming through to build up our open competition in two to three years we will be able to build an NRL comp for the women. Hopefully that will go ahead and happen soon rather than later.”
Studdon can’t envision life without League and hopes that the game will grow exponentially so that she can continue to work in Rugby League and perhaps one day wear the mighty Red and Green.
“It’s a long way away yet but I want to stay in the Rugby League world either coaching or training but staying in the Rugby League women’s area is ultimate goal.”