When Ruby-Jean Kennard graduated high school last year she made a plan.
It was written on a poster hanging in her bedroom.
She would play in the NRLW within two years.
Just one season after the Parramatta Eels entered the competition, the 18 year-old got a call she never expected.
“I was actually surprised. I never really used to believe in myself and now this has happened, Kennard said.
“He (Andy Patmore – NRLW Team Manager) just got straight into it and said ‘I just want to offer you a contract’. I just went quiet and couldn’t talk. I was so shocked and he was like hello are you still there? I didn’t know what to say.
“I went downstairs after the phone call and showed the poster to my mum and dad. My mum just started crying,” she said.
Kennard’s rise to the elite level is quite remarkable.
The front rower is the only known player to rise through the Junior Elite Pathways System at one Club.
From the age of 14, she played junior rugby league for the Toongabbie Tigers, before making the Eels’ Tarsha Gale side where she played for three years.
Recently she has been playing in the Harvey Norman Women’s competition for the Wentworthville Magpies.
Now it’s her time for the big stage.
“To be one of the first (local juniors) to come up is good,” Kennard said.
“It feels good to have achieved this. I feel proud,” she said.
The hunger for rugby league runs in the family.
Her dad Ben Ellis laced up the boots for the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2007.
“All my siblings played. I started playing netball but I lost interest in it so I wanted to try something else,” Kennard said.
“My dad played NRL and I wanted to be like him,” she said.
The Eels’ NRLW pre-season begins in July, before the 2022 competition kicks off in August.
The Club has committed to making participation and the growth of Rugby League in Western Sydney a key focus.
The high performance centre being built at Kellyville Park is dedicated to both male and female football programs and will play a vital role in female participation and expansion.