'Trailblazer' McGregor embracing pioneer role
Putting pen to paper with the Sharks a fortnight ago, recruit Corban McGregor says she’s hopeful of contributing to the development of Women’s Rugby League in Australia.
A natural athlete, the former State netball representative knows she now leads the way on an exciting path in the future of the Women’s game.
See the below as McGregor spoke with NRL.com’s Tony Webeck about signing with the Sharks, and her role and responsibility as a professional athlete.
She was the second female rugby league player behind the Australian captain to sign a contract with an NRL club and Corban McGregor says she is ready for the responsibility of being a trailblazer for women's rugby league.
Following the announcement of the signing of Allana Ferguson on Monday the Sharks now have three Australian female representatives on their books with Jillaroos half Maddie Studdon also tipped to join their ranks in the coming weeks.
It represents a seismic shift for female players with an eye to having their own competition in years to come and a dramatic change in acceptance for 22-year-old McGregor.
In 2013 McGregor played with the NSW Surge in the Legends Football League, an American football tournament where the players wore skimpy team uniforms to rival those of the Lingerie Football League in the US.
Sitting in the stands supporting their daughter, McGregor's parents Gina and Mike heard the lewd comments that were being made by a small number of the fans in the stands but her meteoric elevation into the top tier of women's rugby league has brought legitimacy to her sporting endeavours.
A state netball representative before falling pregnant at just 16 years of age, McGregor shapes as a key figure in the further development of women's rugby league in the next five years and says it is a responsibility she is taking very seriously.
"It's awesome to be one of the pioneers of this whole thing, being contracted to an NRL club," McGregor told NRL.com.
"I don't take it lightly at all. I feel a huge responsibility to knuckle down and use all of these opportunities to get specific training to work my butt off and be the best I can be so girls all around the country want to do the same.
"Everyone I've spoken to about it has been pretty amazed by the news and even coming into [Jillaroos] camp some of the other girls from Queensland and other areas of Sydney, it's an eye-opener for them because it could be a reality for them too really soon."
McGregor and her fellow Sharks representatives took their first steps towards a bold frontier with their opening pre-season training session at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Tuesday, a program that McGregor expects will consist of up to five additional sessions per week.
For a young mother with a five-year-old son and a part-time job it's a lot to juggle but McGregor is able to do so thanks to a strong support network of friends and family.
Her son Carter was just two years old when McGregor began training in scantily clad uniforms with the LFL but she says that her family have always remained supportive, especially her father Mike.
"It's obviously very different to rugby league and with the uniforms we got a lot of controversial comments about that so that was a bit of a barrier," McGregor said.
"However all the girls were really confident that that was what the sport was and just accepted it and went with it.
"I've got a really amazing support group, especially with the element of being a new mum. A lot of people could think that was a bit 'out there' but they were really supportive of it and saw it as an opportunity to show what I could do on the field. They didn't look too much into the uniforms.
"I was surprised too but he's one of a kind my dad, he'll support me in anything.
"If anything the roles are sort of reversed. Taking it back to when I got pregnant at such a young age I was more nervous about my mum's reaction than my dad.
"But even with the [LFL] uniforms my mum was sweet with it. It sounds a bit bizarre but they were both really good about it.
"[Being contracted to the Sharks] is pretty exciting for my family and it shows the legitimacy of it and how committed the Sharks are to us."
And now there is another young footballer in the family.
Carter played his first season of rugby league with the Mascot Jets when he was four years old but this year, just like his mother, he was a Cronulla-Caringbah Shark.
"He started when he was four playing for Mascot and this year we moved to Cronulla-Caringbah so both me and him were repping the Sharkies, so it's been pretty cool," McGregor said.
"He loves his Sharks. His father's side of the family are hardcore Souths fans so he loves his Bunnies too but this year he's really jumped on the Sharks band-wagon.
"He's gone to a few of the clinics for the Sharks and he's converting over and was stoked about their win."
Article originally published HERE.