It's taken less than a one season of rugby league for Cheynoah Amone to prove she can mix it with some of the best players around.
The Orange Viper has been tearing it up as part of a formidable forward pack, to the extent that she has been selected in the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs' 29-woman squad for the 2023 Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership.
"Luke Goodwin, the coach, came down to watch a few of our juniors play and I think he just stayed around for our game," she said of how this opportunity came about.
"He gave one of the girls his card, I rang him the next day and he told me he wanted me to be in the squad.
"He told me he'd seen what he needed to see and it was only up from here."
This is the 21-year-old's first season playing rugby league, with previous league tag experience for Orange Hawks, Orange CYMS and most recently as part of the Group 10 premiership winning St Pat's side.
Her only other encounter with league? An Albury 9s carnival when she was 17.
"I was a scared little winger back then," she said with a smile.
"My family have been pestering me for three years to come and play (rugby league) and then I finally gave in.
"I love it, (the Vipers) are so nice and I've known all of them from league tag, touch footy and everything else. They've definitely shown me the right way with footy."
Amone has already had her first taste of life with the Bulldogs, having started pre-season training with the team on Monday.
"We did an hour in the gym and I've never been to the gym, so I was very confused," she said.
"I was looking at the program and searching things on Youtube beforehand, trying to figure out what everything was. But all the girls were amazing and they were helping me out."
Going forward, she'll be travelling down to Sydney on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for training, accounting for nearly 18 hours worth of driving a week.
"Luckily I have my mum, dad, partner and my pop who drive me down there and come back with me," she added.
While the Bulldogs will not be part of the NRLW in 2023, the club has already submitted a bid to NRL headquarters to join the competition in 2024.
"Canterbury is focussed on building the women's game from the bottom up," said Barry Ward, who has been appointed to oversee the club's women's program
"We are implementing the right pathways across the game and investing in grassroots and talent development."
"Right now, that means the return of our Harvey Norman Women's side, the ongoing development of our Tarsha Gale side, and the opportunity for our female teams to have greater access to the facilities, funding, and servicing that they need to not only be successful sportspeople but to sustain success at an elite level."
As for the prospect of playing at the sport's highest level one day, Amone said she would "love to."
But for now, the hard-running forward is just hoping that more women from the west can get an opportunity like her.
"I think they need to come out here more often and watch a few more girls," she said of Sydney clubs.
"The talent out here is unreal. We haven't had the coaching that the girls have had in Sydney, but we still have the skills and with a little bit of extra coaching, we'd be amazing."
Amone's Bulldogs are expected to travel out to Orange early in 2023 to take part in a pre-season match against the Western Rams.
The Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership League is the NSW Rugby League's premier open-age competition for women.
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