A mother’s way

How rugby league saved Lav­ina Phillips

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NRL - FIONA BOLLEN CITY V COUN­TRY

IT’S a neat com­ing to­gether for City five-eighth Lav­ina Phillips to­day.

As she runs onto North Syd­ney Oval on Mother’s Day in the in­au­gu­ral women’s City-Coun­try game, it’s a fit­ting date con­sid­er­ing she took up the sport eight years ago to help deal with post-natal de­pres­sion.

Struggling af­ter the birth of her sec­ond child, Phillips went to a train­ing ses­sion with friends, joined the Red­fern All Blacks and found a part of her­self that — de­spite now jug­gling long days of work, fam­ily and train­ing that start at 4.30am — she wouldn’t give up for the world. “I started play­ing when my sec­ond child

was born, prob­a­bly eight months af­ter. I suf­fered from post-natal de­pres­sion. I was look­ing for an out­let and rugby league was it,” Phillips said.

“A few girls from the area were play­ing and I de­cided to go to train­ing one night and it helped me a lot with that part of my life.

“There’s not enough hours in the day. I work full­time, I have train­ing and the kids’ sport as well and try­ing to nur­ture their dreams. ”It’s hard but it’s worth it, isn’t it?” When she went to that first ses­sion, Phillips never imag­ined where it would lead. She has since rep­re­sented the Indige­nous All Stars and NSW, and this week­end will guide City around the park against Coun­try.

It’s been a huge 12 months and to­day could com­plete a treble.

“I’ve played with the Indige­nous All Stars from the first game on­wards. We just beat the All Stars for the first time in Fe­bru­ary this year,” she said.

“That was an amaz­ing experience; that was prob­a­bly one of the high­lights of my rugby league ca­reer. And def­i­nitely beat­ing Queensland for the first time in 17 years in the State of Ori­gin, that’s right up there, too. I can’t wait.’’ The match con­tin­ues the Ci­tyCoun­try tra­di­tion af­ter the men’s fix­ture ended last week­end and will serve as a trial for the NSW team to con­test the in­ter­state chal­lenge in a lit­tle over two months.

City are favourites but Phillips knows Coun­try can lift.

“I think it’s go­ing to be a tight one,’’ she said. “They have noth­ing to lose. There’s a lot of pres­sure on us to win it. They’ll come out fir­ing.”

North Syd­ney Oval of­fers a home ad­van­tage and Phillips will have plenty of fam­ily cheer­ing her on.

“It’s a bless­ing. Just to leave that legacy; here for the fu­ture, the girls of the fu­ture in rugby league,” she said.

“(My fam­ily) are so ex­cited, es­pe­cially Dad. He sits and watches my old Indige­nous All Stars games and NSW games on Foxtel. He must have watched them about 10 times.

“My son plays rugby league and my daugh­ter ... she’s des­per­ate to play rugby league next year.’’

CITY v COUN­TRY: TO­DAY, 1PM, NORTH SYD­NEY OVAL

Lav­ina Phillips with her chil­dren Ky­eema (left) and Shawn. Pic­ture: Brett Costello

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