Tayla Preston had just returned home after a long day at Woolooware High School when her phone buzzed with a very important message.
The Cronulla Sharks’ Tarsha Gale Cup captain opened the text to discover that NSWRL had released squad lists for this year’s Harvey Norman NSW Women’s City-Country Shield.
To her shock, and utter delight, Preston spotted her name alongside various Australian Jillaroos and NSW Blues as part of the 2017 City squad, the 17-year-old describing her selection as a ‘dream come true’.
“It’s such an honour to be named in a squad with Jillaroos and NSW players,” said Preston
“They are people I look up to as role models. I never thought I would be lucky enough to play alongside any of them.”
Preston scored the first ever Tarsha Gale Cup try back in Round 1 and cemented herself early as one of the competition’s fiercest players. The Sharks captain is currently the Tarsha Gale’s top try scorer, dashing over the line on 17 occasions as well as securing a whopping 90 points for Cronulla in 2014 to also be the Cup’s leading point scorer.
The Sharks’ junior representative said that she thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Tarsha Gale Cup and is adamant that the competition paved the way to her City squad selection.
“I love the way in which the Sharks girls clicked instantly from our first training session. We all came from different areas, but we became a family and grew together,” Preston admitted.
“As young women, the Tarsha Gale Cup gave us a chance to play at a competitive level, just like the boys. It’s provided a pathway for future opportunities for young women in Rugby League,” she added.
Jason Stanton, Head of Women’s Rugby League at the Sharks was proud of the achievements of not only Preston but also of the Tarsha Gale competition and all the girls in the Sharks Women’s program.
“Taylor’s selection shows the great success of the Tarsha Gale Cup in the expanding female pathway that NSWRL is developing. I am very pleased to have many Cronulla-Caringbah players joining Taylor in the City representative team,” Stanton said.
“Taylor leads a group of young talented girls that are the future of our great game. We are very proud of the her and wish success for all the players selected in this years City-Country game,” Stanton added.
While Preston’s City Origin selection is certainly cause for celebration, a recent injury will unfortunately prevent the Sharks’ young gun from participating in the City v Country clash next fortnight.
“It’s been hard to get my head around the fact that I’ll be missing out on my sport and unable to play in City v Country game.” Preston confessed.
“But for now, I’m staying positive and working hard to come back as a stronger player.”
The Sharks star intends on playing out the 2017 Winter season with her local Rugby League club, the Cronulla-Carringbah Sharks and when she isn’t playing Rugby League (or Oztag, Basketball, Touch Football or soccer for that matter), she’s studying hard for her Higher School Certificate.
Preston has also emerged this year as a passionate advocate for Women’s Rugby League and expressed her excitement at how quickly the game is growing.
“Girls should definitely give the game a go as there are endless opportunities in the near future,” Preston stated
“I only started playing last year, and to see where I am now is unreal,” she added.
Aspiring to eventually represent Australia and NSW in Rugby League, it’s well and truly a case of ‘watch this space’ for Tayla Preston.