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The Broader Game: Kennedy's vaccine message comes from heart of gold

Kennedy Cherrington's decision to get vaccinated against COVID-19 earlier this month wasn't just driven by the chance to see her Perth-based family and play footy again soon.

The 22-year-old was the only NRLW player who took part in the NRL's vaccination campaign launched on Friday that encouraged fans to get vaccinated amid the lockdown restrictions across Australia.

Cherrington's own personal health history and her job working as a support worker at a Sydney school played a big part in her decision to take it upon herself and get jabbed before the NRL campaign was unveiled. 

The Eels recruit underwent life-changing heart surgery as a child after she was born with a congenital heart defect in 1999 and continues to manage her health while her parents are based on the other side of Australia.

She said it was a "no-brainer" for her own health to receive the Pfizer vaccine as soon as it was made available to her.

Cherrington: I got vaccinated to see my family

"In the campaign, I talk a lot about my family and people have taken that a bit out of context so to clear it up it's about my own health first," Cherrington tells

"I had advice from my cardiologist and it just made sense with my condition.

"Everyone's got their own reasons but the main driver for me was my heart journey and then the other reasons after that.

"With that will come with being able to see my parents and siblings again soon.

"I have family members that don't have the best immune systems and aren't as healthy as me.

Let's tackle this together

"I don't want to be that person who spreads it to them. They're already so vulnerable. I'm doing my part to not put their lives in danger."

Cherrington's rise in the women's game in the past 12 months has come with the many different layers of personality the NSW representative offers.

The always-smiling and energetic forward can also get serious when it's required, including when being the face of an all-important campaign on behalf of the NRLW.

She has been open about receiving the vaccine on her social media channels while she responded to one NRL fan who questioned her choice. 

"Given I'd already been jabbed I just felt it seemed right with my platform to do the right thing and help spread awareness," she said.

"I've got a lot of Polynesian following and that's something that I pride myself on to send a good message out there.

"I've copped some heat over it through messages since and I expected that a bit but ever since high school I've stood by the fact that you're not going to please everyone in everything you do.

"I think with everyone involved in the campaign it's not a case of we're trying to shove the message of getting vaccinated down people's throats but rather encouraging people to stay open-minded about it."

NRLW Rookie of the Year - Kennedy Cherrington

Cherrington insists the NRL hasn't pushed any strict rules onto NRLW players around getting vaccinated but is in a position to help arrange more information around the vaccine for those who come forward.

It's understood the initial responses have been positive from the players.

"From what I understand most of the Eels girls are all done which is awesome to hear," Cherrington said.

"It's your own decision in the end but for me, it was a no-brainer."

Cherrington was one of five marquee players announced to join the Eels in June after she burst onto the scene last year with the Roosters to claim NRLW rookie of the year honours.

Who is the GOAT of Women’s rugby league

Waiting game to end for NRLW

A decision on the NRLW's immediate future is expected in the coming days after plans for teams to begin training on August 30 were scrapped due to the increasing COVID-19 rates in NSW.

Naturally, players have become growingly frustrated by the ongoing delays but are equally understanding of the situation at play for teams based in NSW. 

It's understood the NRL remains committed to there being a 2021 NRLW season.

No sugar-go for Bo 

Parramatta Eels star Botille Vette-Welsh will give up sugar during September to help raise funds for children living with muscular dystrophy.

The #GoSugarFreeForMD campaign will run for 30 days with Vette-Welsh restricted to a sugar-free and natural sugar diet throughout the month.

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A self-confessed person with a sweet tooth, Vette-Welsh is encouraging others to join in on the cause.

"Giving up sugar for 30 days is a minuscule issue compared to what our brothers and sisters with muscular dystrophy have to deal with daily, so if I can help even just a little by going sugar-free then I'm all in," she said.

Lift-off for Team USA 

Even though international rugby league is on hold in Australia and New Zealand, on the other side of the world the USA has just announced their first women's national side to play Canada on October 9.

The historical match between the Red Tails and Ravens will be played in Vancouver after aspiring rugby league players from the US attended a training camp in August.   

The USA has a strong participation rate of rugby union players – the Americans upset the Australian sevens side at the Tokyo Olympics – with rugby league now also beginning to take off.

Canada took part in their first Rugby League World Cup in 2017 with a rugby-dominant side but have since grown and converted many to the 13-player code following the tournament.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations. 

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