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By: PAUL HAIGH
Her rugby league involvement has taken passionate player Charmaine Heta accross Australia.
Maori-born, the New Zealander lived in her native country until she was six before moving with her family to Melbourne.
Playing rugby league in the AFL-mad Victorian capital didn't deter the 22-year-old, who has now played for NSW and Australia women's rugby league teams.
Heta played rugby league in Melbourne from the age of six until 12. She took up the sport again at 15, playing for the Doonside rugby league club in the Penrith Junior Rugby League. "Then I made the state women's team when I was 18 and I played for NSW and Australian women's teams".
The speedy centre played one test for Australia in 2001.
Heta said she was keen to return to play representative again next year but for now was concentrating on playing for the Canley Vale-Lansvale A-grade women's team in the newly-formed inter-district competition, and coaching the girls' 13-14 years combined age team.
The club, which plays in the Parramatta District Junior Rugby League, will provide it's home ground - Adams Park at Canley Vale - as the venue for the exhibition matches this year.
"Next year we hope to get thew women's competition established," Heta said.
The child care teacher says women who love watching rugby league should be encouraged to get involved and play the game. "The 13-14 years team I am coaching is something I want to do, as my goal is to coach them now, help them get experience and coach them at a senior level when they get older," she said.
Jim Poulakidas will coach the Canley Vale-Lansvale A grade team, of which Heta will be the skipper.
"I have grown uo with the sport I am very, very passionate about the game," she said.
"For women, it's a great opportunity to play a man's sport and for women to meet other women and enjoy the game. Women's rugby league can be physical.
"You just have to have the passion for the sport, and (be) willing to take the hits, take the
Photo: Nick Andrean
ball up in attack and do what it takes to get the ball over the tryline".
On the long weekend of June 11 to 13, the NSW women's team will play the Queensland women's team in a state of origin clash on the Gold Coast.
The return clash between NSW and the Maroons on home soil - on Saturday, August 6, at 1.30pm at Henson Park, Marrickville - will be played.
Wednesday 27th April 2005