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NRLW star Kezie Apps believes there’s a very bright future for the league, predicting that within the next decade female athletes will have a full-time job playing rugby league.

Apps is the face of NRLW, as one of the biggest names in the competition entering just its third year. The St George Illawarra Dragons and Jillaroos star had a bold prediction for the NRLW, despite it being only a few seasons old with four teams taking part.

“In the next 10 years it’s going to be a full-time job for these young females coming through, just like it is for the men, which is going to be awesome to see,” Apps told Wide World of Sports upon the release of ASICS’ new boot designed specifically for women.

“It’ll be a very proud moment for me and a lot of the girls that have paved the way.

“Definitely in the next 10 years we’ll see that happen in NRLW, and it’s something I’m excited for.

“As the game grows and the girls get more support, they can play more often and get better coaches, and then they will get better as players as well.”

Kezie Apps is the ambassador for ASICS' Lethal Tigreor IT FF

Australia’s Super Netball players have the highest minimum wages of any domestic women’s competition in the nation, despite sitting well behind the average salaries of men’s sports codes. Super Netball is ahead of the WBBL ($26,000), W-League ($16,344), AFLW ($16,263), NRLW ($8,500), and WNBL ($7,500) for minimum wages to players.

NRLW currently gives 40 players, semi-professional ‘elite’ contracts, but anyone who has been to a game knows there’s nothing ‘semi-professional’ about it, and Apps can already see the attitudes towards female rugby league players changing.

“You are starting to see a shift of the older generation that are starting to enjoy it which is nice,” she said.

“It was hard when I first started, because I’d introduce myself and they’d say, ‘Oh you’re quite tall or athletic looking, what do you do?’ And I’d say I play rugby league and they often respond with, ‘Oh are you a cheerleader or do you play touch?’ And it’s like, ‘No I play tackle!’

“It’s just getting their mindset around the fact women can play tackle footy and that’s definitely changed in the last couple of years, with the more exposure we’ve gotten for women’s sport.”

Kezie Apps wants the NRLW Premiership

That groundswell of support from the public, sport organisations, and sponsors surrounding women’s sport has been incredible in recent years.

Apps said the very fact that brands like ASICS are releasing a boot designed just for women shows how everyone is getting behind female athletes.

“It’s the perfect time to launch a new female boot. The rise of women’s sport not only in rugby league, but other codes like rugby sevens, the cricket, the soccer, it has grown in leaps and bounds.

“Now girls can go to a store and get specific boots for them, not having to get a men’s boot and work out what size they are, which is pretty awesome and has never happened before.”

Kezie Apps is the ambassador for ASICS' Lethal Tigreor IT FF

Apps also notices the effect her playing career and the development of NRLW has on the next generation.

“I’m seeing young girls joining in and playing touch footy, wearing jerseys and coming up to me and knowing my name and wanting autographs,” she said.

“Just being that female role model and an athlete for them to look up to and aspire to be is really special, and something I didn’t have when I was growing up.

“I idolised all the male players in rugby league, but obviously I couldn’t grow up to be a male and play in the NRL. I often joked I wished I was a male just so I could play footy!

“But these girls don’t have to joke anymore, they have so many athletes to look up to, not only in rugby league, so it’s pretty special to be at the front line of that.”

Kezie Apps is one of the NRLW trail-blazers

The South Coast NSW product grew up playing footy with her brothers on the family’s dairy farm, and for the local club, the Bega Roosters. But as the boys got bigger she wasn’t allowed to keep playing after 11 years old. Apps had a 10-year stint playing hockey before she got back into rugby league in her early 20s.

Since then it’s been a prolific rise for Apps through the women’s rugby league ranks to become a Jillaroo, and she hasn’t looked back.

“I saw something on the news that the Jillaroos won the 2013 World Cup, and from that moment I did some researching and found [a club I could play at] Helensburgh. It was about a five-and-a-half hour drive from Bega, and I did that for four years.

“I set a main goal that I wanted to play for Australia and I got to do that in my first year.

“I do even now take a moment and try to be mindful of what’s happening around me, and looking back at my career, seeing how long I’ve been playing for and how much it’s all developed over the years.

“I am a role model and a player that is paving the way for these young females coming through.”

Kezie Apps spoke to Wide World of Sports on behalf of ASICS’ new Lethal Tigreor IT FF women’s boots as part of the ‘Made for Me’ campaign

NRLW star Kezie Apps believes there’s a very bright future for the league, predicting that within the next decade female athletes will have a full-time job playing rugby league.

Apps is the face of NRLW, as one of the biggest names in the competition entering just its third year. The St George Illawarra Dragons and Jillaroos star had a bold prediction for the NRLW, despite it being only a few seasons old with four teams taking part.

“In the next 10 years it’s going to be a full-time job for these young females coming through, just like it is for the men, which is going to be awesome to see,” Apps told Wide World of Sports upon the release of ASICS’ new boot designed specifically for women.

“It’ll be a very proud moment for me and a lot of the girls that have paved the way.

“Definitely in the next 10 years we’ll see that happen in NRLW, and it’s something I’m excited for.

“As the game grows and the girls get more support, they can play more often and get better coaches, and then they will get better as players as well.”

Kezie Apps is the ambassador for ASICS' Lethal Tigreor IT FF

Australia’s Super Netball players have the highest minimum wages of any domestic women’s competition in the nation, despite sitting well behind the average salaries of men’s sports codes. Super Netball is ahead of the WBBL ($26,000), W-League ($16,344), AFLW ($16,263), NRLW ($8,500), and WNBL ($7,500) for minimum wages to players.

NRLW currently gives 40 players, semi-professional ‘elite’ contracts, but anyone who has been to a game knows there’s nothing ‘semi-professional’ about it, and Apps can already see the attitudes towards female rugby league players changing.

“You are starting to see a shift of the older generation that are starting to enjoy it which is nice,” she said.

“It was hard when I first started, because I’d introduce myself and they’d say, ‘Oh you’re quite tall or athletic looking, what do you do?’ And I’d say I play rugby league and they often respond with, ‘Oh are you a cheerleader or do you play touch?’ And it’s like, ‘No I play tackle!’

“It’s just getting their mindset around the fact women can play tackle footy and that’s definitely changed in the last couple of years, with the more exposure we’ve gotten for women’s sport.”

Kezie Apps wants the NRLW Premiership

That groundswell of support from the public, sport organisations, and sponsors surrounding women’s sport has been incredible in recent years.

Apps said the very fact that brands like ASICS are releasing a boot designed just for women shows how everyone is getting behind female athletes.

“It’s the perfect time to launch a new female boot. The rise of women’s sport not only in rugby league, but other codes like rugby sevens, the cricket, the soccer, it has grown in leaps and bounds.

“Now girls can go to a store and get specific boots for them, not having to get a men’s boot and work out what size they are, which is pretty awesome and has never happened before.”

Kezie Apps is the ambassador for ASICS' Lethal Tigreor IT FF

Apps also notices the effect her playing career and the development of NRLW has on the next generation.

“I’m seeing young girls joining in and playing touch footy, wearing jerseys and coming up to me and knowing my name and wanting autographs,” she said.

“Just being that female role model and an athlete for them to look up to and aspire to be is really special, and something I didn’t have when I was growing up.

“I idolised all the male players in rugby league, but obviously I couldn’t grow up to be a male and play in the NRL. I often joked I wished I was a male just so I could play footy!

“But these girls don’t have to joke anymore, they have so many athletes to look up to, not only in rugby league, so it’s pretty special to be at the front line of that.”

Kezie Apps is one of the NRLW trail-blazers

The South Coast NSW product grew up playing footy with her brothers on the family’s dairy farm, and for the local club, the Bega Roosters. But as the boys got bigger she wasn’t allowed to keep playing after 11 years old. Apps had a 10-year stint playing hockey before she got back into rugby league in her early 20s.

Since then it’s been a prolific rise for Apps through the women’s rugby league ranks to become a Jillaroo, and she hasn’t looked back.

“I saw something on the news that the Jillaroos won the 2013 World Cup, and from that moment I did some researching and found [a club I could play at] Helensburgh. It was about a five-and-a-half hour drive from Bega, and I did that for four years.

“I set a main goal that I wanted to play for Australia and I got to do that in my first year.

“I do even now take a moment and try to be mindful of what’s happening around me, and looking back at my career, seeing how long I’ve been playing for and how much it’s all developed over the years.

“I am a role model and a player that is paving the way for these young females coming through.”

Kezie Apps spoke to Wide World of Sports on behalf of ASICS’ new Lethal Tigreor IT FF women’s boots as part of the ‘Made for Me’ campaign

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