As head coach of the Jillaroos, I like to stay hidden in the background.

It’s our girls who deserve the spotlight.

Our Jillaroos squad work so hard to be successful. All they want to do is be an example for every female in Australia, and to win.

As a coaching staff we’re happy to do whatever it takes for the girls to get the recognition that they deserve and have been waiting for, for a long time.

It’s also what we love most about this group; they’re really humble, and collectively, have done a lot of this by themselves over the last few years.

There was a long time where the girls basically funded their own international tours. They funded their first couple of World Cups; it was a while before they were brought in underneath the umbrella of the game.

Our game has come so far, and is so much more socially inclusive; I take my hat off to Todd Greenberg, the ARL commission and the Rugby League World Cup organising committee.

And it’d be remiss of me not to acknowledge the role that Mal Meninga and the Elite Programs staff have played to help elevate women’s rugby league.

My day-to-day role involves running our elite programs including the Kangaroos, the Junior Kangaroos and the Australian schoolboys, and of course the Jillaroos.

Working with Mal, everytime he walks into a room and talks to the girls, he treats them no different to any other program.

Anything that happens for the Kangaroos preparation, is expected for all of our programs, and this is very evident in the Jillaroos.

Mal, his coaching staff and the players are very supportive of female participation – people’s opinions are starting to swing in the right direction because our most influential stakeholders in the game are making it their responsibility to instigate change.

We’re all playing a role in doing so. I say to most people, our coaching staff signed up to coach and prepare the footy team, but have ended up as facilitators for the movement in our sport.

They have happily accepted that responsibility and all the staff that we have within in the Jillaroos team are extremely committed to making the game the best they can.

It’s been a fun twelve months in the women’s head coaching role.

What we’ve learned is it is all about communication; they’re a great bunch of girls.

I remember bringing us all together from day one, and asking them “What do they want to do?” “What are you trying to do?”

We were so inspired by their responses.

They wanted to win the World Cup, but do something bigger and better than that along the way; they wanted to showcase that women could play rugby league. They wanted to inspire young girls, and they wanted to train and play hard. To not only be a great team, but that the product that people saw would be able to push for a women’s national competition.

How do you not get inspired by that!

They’ve been very successful in the goals that they have set out.

We obviously have the World Cup to get through, and that is high on the wish list, as well as developing a national rugby league competition with the quality the girls expect.

That is something that surprised me; they didn’t just want to dive into a national competition and put 16 women’s teams in NRL jersey as quick as possible. They are their harshest critics and they said we’re not ready for that as yet and we don’t have the talent pool for 16 teams right now.

They’re a very mature bunch. Just getting them together asking them what they wanted to do and facilitating that for the last 12 months has helped us with the results.

It’s not easy playing a team sport where you don’t train with the team. Most of these girls train remotely, so they train by themselves.

It’s a very unique situation for a team sport, where you’re not training the team too often.

As for the World Cup, if we stay fit and healthy we’ve got a really good opportunity to finish everything that we set out to do in the last 12 months.

We have to be really careful how we manage the athletes through those tight turnarounds, making sure we put the best players on the field through our matches.

You certainly win World Cups off hard work but you need a bit of luck to go your way as well.

Brad Donald

Brad Donald is the current head coach of the Australian Jillaroos