Bond University Sport Management graduate Emily Bass enjoyed her first taste of international rugby league when she lined up for the Australian PM’s XIII against the PNG Orchids last week.
Consistent performances for the Brisbane Broncos in the NRLW secured the speedster’s spot in the PM’s XIII and she carried that form into the game by scoring two tries in a significant Australian win.
“It’s my job to finish,” Bass said. “It was nice to get on the end of a few passes and make a contribution.”
Although thrilled to wear national colours, news of her selection arrived in slightly awkward circumstances.
“The Broncos girls were at the airport in Sydney after we lost our semi-final to Parramatta. Everyone was pretty flat. But then the phone calls started to come through. We were all obviously pretty excited but didn’t really know how to react at first.”
Bass said the opportunity to fully immerse herself in a pre-match training camp was a great insight into full sporting professionalism.
“We had five full days to get to know each other on and off the track,” she said. “Football, and playing for Australia, was our only focus. We didn’t worry about work or study or whatever else. It made a huge difference to how we approached the game. We went into the game so relaxed and sure of what we had to do.”
Although there are plenty of opportunities for female athletes these days, the realities of juggling sport with work still throws up plenty of challenges.
The issue came to light earlier this week when fellow Bond Sport Management graduate Millie Boyle turned down the chance to represent Australia’s Jillaroos at the Rugby League World Cup because of work commitments. Boyle is considered one the best players in the game. Bass, who also balances work as a school sports administrator with her elite sporting career, was empathetic.
“I really feel for Millie, but at the moment these are the difficult kinds of decisions we sometimes have to make,” Bass said. “I know I’m often starting my working days at 8, school’s out at 3, then we’ll have Broncos training from 3.30 in the afternoon often until 8.30. It’s a massive commitment.”
Still, the chance wear an Australian jumper under Suncorp’s bright lights made the tough grind feel worthwhile.
“Receiving your Australian team kit is a total buzz but then to run out in front of family and friends to represent your country is something else altogether,” she said. “The minutes before the kick-off when we met the Australian and PNG prime ministers and had the anthems were electric. It was all a bit of a blur but i’ll never, ever forget the feeling.”
Bass’s NRLW season is now over, but there’s still plenty of football to be played. This weekend she’ll return to where it all started when she lines up for the Bull Sharks at the University 7s in Adelaide.
“It’s great to be able to return to Bond to give something back. I’m one of the older players now, so hopefully I can share a bit of experience. I reckon I might be sweating on a few of the younger girls backing me up. Hopefully my legs and lungs hold out.”