For Sally Dwyer, there’s nothing like playing for your home town.
That made Friday night’s Margaret Kelly Shield win even more special.
The shield is awarded the Group 11 league tag player of the year, and Dwyer was a worthy winner having guided the Parkes Spacecats to a spot in this season’s grand final.
While the world of women’s rugby league may still be relatively young, Dwyer is an experienced campaigner.
Having played for Forbes previously in Group 11, Dwyer spent last season playing in Group 10 with Orange Hawks, helping them all the way to the grand final.
She also enjoyed a stellar run in the tackle version of the game early in the year and after helping Group 10 to the western region title she was one of just five players from the area who went on to make the Southern NSW Country side.
There, she played in a back row which also featured Australian player Vanessa Foliaki and Talesha Quinn.
But it was soon back to league tag and Dwyer slotted in seamlessly with the Parkes Spacecats in season 2018.
“Playing for the home town is always a good feeling,” she said.
“And at the start of the year we didn’t think we’d be as strong as we have been. Now we’re in the grand final.”
While the Spacecats side is stacked with exciting talent, Dwyer has been a key figure all season.
Someone who has featured in the halves in the past. Dwyer has been at fullback for the Spacecats and was the side’s leading try-scorer during a regular season which included just the one loss.
Despite the form individually and as a team, the major prize on Friday night still came as a shock.
“I feel so honoured to have won the league tag player of the year. It’s a great feeling,” she said, admitting she didn’t expect to win.
“Definitely not. Especially in this Parkes team, any one of us could have won it and that goes for other teams too. There’s a lot of talent.
“I play fullback so I rely on the halves and we’ve got really good halves on either side so if they’re on then I’m on and we all work together.”
The surprises didn’t stop there for Dwyer on Saturday night as part of the prize was two tickets to the NRL grand final and accommodation in Sydney, all thanks to the league tag competition’s major sponsor Westfund.
She said it was a privilege and an honour to receive that as well as the silverware.
The accolades may not stop there either, with Dwyer and her Spacecats now just one win away from another league tag title for Parkes.
“We’ve been really positive and we’ve had a couple of team bonding sessions and training as normal,” Dwyer said, the Spacecats enjoying the weekend off after winning the major semi.
“Everyone is pumped and we’re ready to tackle whoever we have to in the final. Well, tag whoever we have to.”