The Harris name isn’t an odd one in Western Division circles.
But, when Western runs out against the Riverina on Friday night at Wagga’s McDonalds Park, former Parkes woman Ella-J Harris will get the chance to do something in green and white her father, Will, never has.
Ella-J – who now plays with the Orange Hawks – will lead out the Rams as skipper, her side the first Western women’s rugby league team to play a competitive game in more than 10 years.
The Rams girls will play Riverina as one of three curtain-raisers to the NSW Country under 23s’ clash with Samoa’s Rugby League World Cup squad.
Playing in front of a big crowd, one likely to include a stack of big name NRL players given the likes of Joey Leilua, Junior Paulo and Josh Papalii, is rare.
It’s a stage not afforded to many.
But Harris, and most of her Rams’ teammates, is just happy to be able to.
“First year playing ... since I was about 10,” Harris grinned.
It’s so good to be able to experience something new in the area.Rams captain Ella-J Harris
“To then captain the side, it’s so good to be able to experience something new in the area.”
Harris is joined by Hawks teammates Bec Ford, Jacky Lyden, Sheryll Selwood and Lailee Phillips, while Blayney’s Sophie Stammers is also playing in Hawks’ nines side for the Western competition.
All of those players, and the rest of the 15-strong squad named to represent the Rams, boast plenty of speed.
It’s a trait Harris says will be key against what is expected to be a physical Riverina outfit.
“We played them in our league tag country champs round, and they were really little and really fast ... but I’ve looked at the team list and a few of the girls seem pretty big,” the skipper said.
“There will be some pretty heavy contact.
“It’s just getting your body in the right position to make a tackle and being prepared to be hit as well … then again, there was a lot of collision in league tag this year.”
Western takes on the Riverina from 4.15pm, with the Country versus Samoa game at 7pm at Wagga Wagga’s McDonalds Park.
Riverina Women’s 9’s
1 Takilele Katoa (Yenda), 2 Ua Ravu (Yenda), 3 Cecilia Smith (Yenda), 4 Ruby Leao-Seve (Yenda), 5 Amelia Lolotonga (Yenda), 6 Lauretta Leao-Seve (Yenda), 7 Emma Hickey (Panthers), 8 Shailyn Williams (Griffith Black and Whites), 9 Anita Carter (Lake Cargelligo), 10 Grace Cashmere (Lake Cargelligo), 11 Shannon Pike (Lake Cargelligo), 12 Claire Hately (Lake Cargelligo), 13 Haylee McDonell (Albury Thunder), 14 Jess McDonell (Albury Thunder); Coach: Shailyn Williams
Western Women’s 9’s
1 Sophie Stammers (Orange Hawks/Blayney), 2 Jacky Lyden (Orange Hawks), 3 Meredith Jones (Bathurst St Pat’s), 4 Majayda Darcy (Dubbo CYMS), 5 Amy Copping (Bathurst St Pat’s), 6 Tarlee Roberts (Dubbo Westside), 7 Rebecca Ford (Orange Hawks), 8 Nyoka Boney (Dubbo Westside), 9 Ella-J Harris (Orange Hawks), 10 Sheryll Selwood (Orange Hawks), 11 Grace Mooney (Bathurst St Pat’s/Blayney), 12 Lailee Phillips (Orange Hawks), 13 Demi Wilson (Dubbo CYMS), 14 Litisha Boney (Dubbo Westside), 15 Rikka Lamb (Dubbo CYMS); Coach: Jess Skinner.