Enter Ruan Sims...
" for all the talent running through the Sims family bloodline, it seems when they were standing in the 'talent' line most of the allocation went to older sister Ruan, evidenced by the fact that Ruan is a dual international (Union and League) and in Rugby League captains both her state and her country."
The standard is so high in the female game there is one person leading the charge to get things off the ground in Australia and that person is the current Australian Captain Ruan Sims.
Ruan and her family grew up in Gerringong (just south of the Illawarra shire in NSW) and she started playing Rugby League from a very early age.
At the age of 12 with no future pathway for female rugby League players Ruan turned to basketball before making the switch to Rugby Union as a centre. After a long career Ruan took a year off in 2010 to become a firefighter and found at that stage she was able to move back into Rugby League.
Sport runs deep in the Sims family with the three Fijian brothers Korbin, Ashton and Tariq all playing professionally for various clubs over the years. However for all the talent running through the Sims family bloodline, it seems when they were standing in the 'talent' line most of the allocation went to older sister Ruan, evidenced by the fact that Ruan is a dual international (Union and League) and in Rugby League captains both her state and her country.
At one time Ruan was a ball playing centre in the game of Rugby. Recently she has condensed her playing style. She reads the game of Rugby league very well and when she noticed the NSW and Australian teams both needed some muscle up the middle, she modified her style to become a straight, hard running middle third lock. There is no better leader than a leader who will get in the trench, take the hard run and say to their players 'follow me'. There are very few players in the game who can modify their style of play and over a career become a different player. Few come to mind, the likes of Luke Lewis (winger to back rower) and Corey Parker (front rower to lock).
Two milestones stand out and they are the announcement of Ruan as the Jillaroos captain in 2016 and Ruan leading the NSW team to victory in the interstate challenge. This might seem specious in the surface, but add in the fact that this is the first time in 17 years NSW has beaten QLD and it becomes a monumental career defining moment.
Ruan's most recent battle has been off the field. With no clear pathway for girls to move into Rugby League and no professional competition in Australia, Ruan is working her club (the Cronulla Sharks) and the NRL in an attempt to establish a 9s tournament as a stepping stone to one day hopefully establishing a domestic competition.
If there is one observation you can make of Ruan Sims, it is that she is an ultra-competitive, winner and there is no one better to lead female Rugby League into a new era.
The NRL is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Women In League during Round 22 with various events across the calendar.
Each week until the end of the season I am running a 'Player in Focus' column. Last week's player in focus was Jarrod Croker, you can find the article here.
If you would like a 'Player in Focus' article on any player tweet me @darrinseath or comment on this article in the facebook thread of zerotackle.