Donning an Indigenous All Stars jersey has acted as a crucial step on the path to the top for plenty of burgeoning superstars in recent years and now it could potentially do the same for Dubbo’s Majayda Darcy and Orange’s Bec Ford.
Plucked straight from the country, Darcy and Ford have been included in the Indigenous All Stars’ train-on squad ahead of next February’s showcase clash against the New Zealand Maoris at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, one that will mark the beginning of a new era for the annual All Stars exhibition.
The 30-strong group was released on Tuesday afternoon, with Darcy and Ford – who play their club footy for Dubbo CYMS and Orange Hawks respectively – named alongside a handful of Jillaroos, Prime Minister’s XIII and State of Origin stars.
Darcy featured for Group 11 at Western’s Representative Cluster at the beginning of the year and was also in and among the Rams’ group, but spent a large portion of the year in the sevens arena representing Australia’s youth girls’ side and playing for Sydney University in the AON Uni 7s.
Ford had a massive year in 2018, with her efforts for Hawks, Group 10, Western and Country Southern rocketing her onto the elite pathways radar.
Ford is overjoyed to see another Western product in the squad, saying their selection is proof the burgeoning pathway for women is continuing its rapid development.
“It shows young Indigenous girls can dream big and know there is a pathway there, it is achievable,” Ford enthused.
“I haven’t actually played with Majayda, she was named to play for the Rams but she had other commitments and didn’t play, but I know she’s a really talented player and it’s terrific to see her get named as well.”
Despite her own stellar performance in the past 12 months, this opportunity has left crafty half Ford stunned.
“It was a massive shock,” Ford, who has also successfully tried her hand at rugby sevens and Australian rules this year, said.
“I’ve been going to the NRL talent identification camps and at the last one I did a lot of work with the Indigenous All Stars coach up there, that’s the only place I imagine they’d have seen me.
“It’s very exciting, I haven’t got a lot of details yet but we’ve got another camp at Runaway Bay coming up so I think I’ll get a bit more information then.”
It shows young Indigenous girls can dream big.Bec Ford
Darcy and Ford will join the likes of dual international and World Cup-winning Jillaroo Bec Young in the squad, the Newcastle product skippered the Indigenous All Stars’ maiden win last year and also captained the Prime Minister’s XIII.
But more importantly, the All Stars showcase helped thrust into the rugby league spotlight, and Young said she’ll do everything she can to try and make sure it does the same for the likes of the Western duo.
"I first got a look at by the Jillaroos and NSW through playing in the Koori Knockout and then playing in the first Indigenous All Stars match,” Young explained, speaking to NRL.com.
"So for me this game every year is one I hold close to my heart as it's helped shape me into the player and person I am - I hope it is also able to do that for our talented first nations people as well.
“Having been in the game for a while now and being a part of the Indigenous All Star since the women's game got introduced in 2011, I feel a responsibility support and guide the younger girls.
"It's also important that us older girls are sharing our knowledge with the young ones and help them be the best person they can be on and off the field."
Ford explained she’s yet to be given final details on the squad’s commitments, but it’s expected the group will train together before being cut down ahead of the clash on February 15.
- INDIGENOUS ALL STARS: Akayla McQuire, Amber Pilley, Bec Ford, Bec Young, Caitlan Johnston, Chloe Caldwell, Jenni-Sue Hoepper, Kandy Kennedy, Kazzia Lammon, Kyara Nean, Latoniya Norris, Lavina O’Mealey, Lavina Robinson, Layla Fauid, Majayda Darcy, Ngalika Barker, Quincy Dodd, Regan Hart, Rhiannon Revell-Blair, Samartha Leisha, Sarah Field, Shakiah Tungai, Sharon McGrady, Shaylee Bent, Stephanie Mooka, Tahlia Hunter, Taleena Simon, Tallisha Harden, Terri-Ann Caine, Tommaya Kelly-Sines