A talented pair of Rugby League players have been offered the “life changing opportunity” to compete in New Zealand.
Batley Bulldogs Girls captain Evie Kilburn and scrumhalf Millie Taylor, both 15, received an email out the blue from Australian champions Merrimac State High School.
Following the Bulldogs Girls’ historic tour Down Under last year, the Aussie team has asked that the duo join them during a tour starting in Auckland this September.
Evie’s mum Michelle said: “This is a huge and life changing opportunity for the girls but it is also fantastic news for the sport of women’s Rugby League in this country and, of course, the club Batley Bulldogs.
“It is brilliant that British talent is being recognised and our athletes are being viewed as equals alongside the Australians, whose national sport is Rugby League.
“Both Millie and Evie are thrilled to be able to represent the Batley Bulldogs and their country again.”
The team are now busy fundraising to hit the £4,500 needed to get the pair, who are from Dewsbury and Batley, to New Zealand.
During the tour the girls will take on the New Zealand champions and participate in other competitions such as a Beach 7’s tournament at The Bay of Plenty.
The girls will be coached by top ex-National Rugby League player Dave McCall who competeed alongside legend Wally Lewis.
Batley Bulldogs Girls and Ladies coach Craig Taylor has also been selected to assist on the tour.
Michelle said the pair plan to pave the way for other ambitious young athletes in the sport hope to be the first of many making the journey overseas.
“The news was a complete shock to the girls, their families and the club but it is an opportunity too big to miss out on,” she said.
The Batley Bulldogs Girls team’s invitation came after they made history in October last year when they travelled to Queensland and became the first all female squad to tour Australia.
As well as competing against native teams, the girls spent time at Merrimac school, sampling life as an Australian pupil.
Down Under the girls’ teams are given 15 hours of rugby league lessons a week as part of their curriculum.
The tour of New Zealand is heavily subsidised by the National Rugby League, the sport’s governing body, but the same financial support is not available in England so the girls are funding the trip themselves. If anyone is interested in sponsoring them contact Mr Taylor on 07745 582387 or firstname.lastname@example.org