When Ruan Sims was a young child, the only way she saw herself as a rugby league star was in her dreams.
And now the Jillaroos captain travels as an NRL ambassador, promoting the game to today’s younger generation in the hope they will all have the opportunity she has had.
As well as being an NRL ambassador, Sims recently became the first female rugby league player to sign an official playing contract when she put pen to paper with the Cronulla Sharks.
Sims was in Dubbo on Friday, visiting a number of schools while also attending a round of the CRL Dubbo Ladies and Girls Nines tournament at Caltex Park in the evening.
I feel extremely privileged to be in the position I am and do not take it for granted at all.Ruan Sims
While at Dubbo College South Campus on Friday afternoon, Sims spoke to a group that was made up of largely female students and was hopeful some would have the chance to also become professional players.
“It’s hugely exciting,” Sims told the Daily Liberal.
“I was privileged to sign a contract with the Sharks this year and the thing that excites me the most about all this is that hopefully in five to ten years time when these young women become opens women's players that might be a genuine career pathway for them and they can do it as their full time job.”
While the contract with the Sharks doesn’t grant her any playing time, it opens up all kinds of possibilities for Sims.
The sister of rugby league stars Ashton, Korbin and Tariq will have access to everything the NRL players do.
That means Sims will not only be able to take part in the strength and conditioning and have access to the physiotherapist, she’ll also be able to easily get things which many stars take for granted, things like boots and mouthguards.
“I know, for me especially, I’m going to be a better footballer in 12 months than I am here today,” she said.
“I think it’s just something that I would have never imagined having in my playing career but I’m just super excited.
“I feel extremely privileged to be in the position I am and do not take it for granted at all and I love taking any opportunity that comes my way.”
Travelling to Dubbo was one of those opportunities and Sims said she “absolutely loved” visiting different communities.
Sims took in a round of the hugely successful Nines tournament on Friday night, seeing local players take part in a tackle format of the game.
“And the tackle aspect is just one aspect of the game,” Sims said.
“We’ve got other entry level football games like touch and League Tag then we’ve got the Nines and 13-a-side too so we’ve actually got a huge range for all athletic types, body types and even outside of playing now you can be an administrator, you can be a CEO, a referee, a volunteer president,” she said.
“There’s just something for everyone in rugby league and that’s what is so appealing.”