Every so often you get a stark reminder that Jesse Southwell continues to be simply 17.
Like when she’s speaking about Andrew Johns, for instance. The legendary Knights half-back has acted as a mentor for Southwell as Newcastle labored their approach towards NRLW glory, a journey which ended with their 32-12 win over Parramatta on Sunday.
“Joey’s been serving to me by way of the entire competitors. He is been giving me heaps of recommendations on what to do and take care of sure conditions. I am unable to credit score him sufficient,” Southwell mentioned.
“It is fairly cool, My dad watched Joey when he was younger so to see somebody like that come speak to me us because the group, as ladies that is very cool.”
Her dad watched Johns, however Southwell did not. She was solely three when the Newcastle Immortal retired again in 2006. She solely is aware of him by way of highlights.
It is a kind of uncomfortable moments that makes followers of a sure age really feel each considered one of their years in addition to highlighting simply how particular a prodigy the Knights have on their fingers.
Southwell’s age has been the main focus of her outstanding rookie marketing campaign, which has ended with a grand remaining victory, a potential Jillaroos berth and a good declare to being one of the best half-back in girls’s rugby league.
Full-back Tamika Upton may need received the Karyn Murphy Medal as participant of the match however Southwell is a imaginative and prescient of the game’s future and there is a clear purpose, beside her prodigious expertise, she has seemed so comfy on the recreation’s highest stage.
She is a part of the NRLW’s second era, a gaggle who’ve performed rugby league their whole lives. In days previous, ladies needed to cease enjoying as soon as they reached their early teenagers. With the progress the sport has made in recent times, that is a factor of the previous.
Southwell was raised with a soccer in her fingers – she’s been enjoying since she was 5 years outdated — and it exhibits.
The best way she passes, kicks and takes the ball to the road have a simple, pure high quality that may solely be attained by way of years and years of follow as a youth.
The Knights half-back is a footballer, not an athlete, and there is a distinction.
That distinction shone by way of together with her good lengthy ball that created the area for Emmanita Paki’s attempt to once more when she put Romy Teitzel over simply earlier than half-time with a brief cross that was sharp sufficient to pores and skin a crocodile.
Her match-sealing attempt within the remaining phases was like one thing out of a half-back’s textbook. Ball in two fingers, enjoying straight and direct, difficult defenders with footwork and velocity – each little element was good, identical to they educate you do it, identical to Johns would have proven her.
It is a cliché to say a participant was simply having enjoyable on the market however that is the way it felt for Southwell.
She wrote “chocolate thunder” on her wrist strapping as a reminder of how she desires to method the sport.
“It is from The Cat and The Hat film, my finest buddy from sevens and I like to observe that film,” Southwell mentioned.
“I believed I might write it on my wrist to recollect these enjoyable occasions.”
It was troublesome to flee the sensation that that is solely the start. Most half-backs develop into their recreation and grow to be more proficient at controlling play and taking their group across the park as they achieve extra expertise.
Southwell’s command of matches is already near unmatched within the girls’s recreation – it is likely to be sufficient to get her into the Jillaroos World Cup squad — and that side of her play will solely enhance. There are not any limits to what she will be able to obtain on this sport.
There have been different heroes for the Knights. Upton was class on the again together with her velocity and ability making her a terror for the Parramatta defenders. Yasmin Clydesdale put in a severe shift on the left edge and because the Eels mounted a valiant fightback within the second half Newcastle made certain their hand was regular.
Parramatta had been courageous all through and issues had been trying up once they narrowed the hole to 18-12 with slightly over quarter-hour to go — however seems to be aren’t all the things.
Sooner or later, you’re what your report says you’re and whereas Dean Widders aspect did so properly to upset the Roosters we’re solely two weeks faraway from them notching their first win of the season.
For all of Simaima Taufa’s energy working and Gayle Broughton’s ability, which had been each on show all through, the Eels lacked just a bit of the poise and attacking class of their rivals.
If they will maintain their squad collectively, they may properly be again right here subsequent season. It took time for them to settle into their finest squad and with a daily season simply 5 matches lengthy, time could be briefly provide for the NRLW.
And quick turnarounds are potential. The Knights themselves had been winless of their maiden NRLW marketing campaign earlier this yr. Their speedy rise to this glory is a credit score to the complete membership.
The Knights needed to change issues, so that they did
They guess massive on Upton and Millie Boyle, who each joined the membership amid a lot fanfare and justified the hype each step of the best way.
In addition they had a change within the coaches field, the place the appointment of the spectacular Ronald Griffiths as coach has paid off handsomely.
However most significantly, they discovered Southwell, who has grow to be the jewel within the membership’s crown, a shining imaginative and prescient of what is potential when ladies are given the chance to play the sport they love with out interruption.