THE road to Sydney from Old Bar and return.
Holli Wheeler knows every turn, every bump.
For the past five weeks Wheeler has driven to Sydney on Tuesdays for training with the St George side in preparation for the opening round of the inaugural National Rugby League Holden Women’s Premiership this weekend.
Saints train Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Wheeler cuts the travel down a bit by staying over at her grandmas. Even so, it’s a lot of driving, while she also has to organise shifts at Snap Fitness in Taree, where she’s the manager.
“All the travel does get to me a bit,’’ she admits.
However, she says it will be all worthwhile this weekend when the four team competition kicks off. Saints will play Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Sunday before their male counterparts do battle.
Wheeler believes Saints will be the underdogs in the competition, with the other three sides, Sydney Roosters, Brisbane and New Zealand bristling with State representatives and internationals.
Wheeler signed with Saints after playing solidly for NSW in the State of Origin clash against Queensland earlier this year at North Sydney Oval. She’d also been a member of the victorious NSW Country side at the National Championships played in Queensland. She admits it’s all been a bit surreal.
“At the start of the year my goal was to get selected in the Country team,’’ she said.
“Anything else would be a bonus.’’
Wheeler will start Sunday’s game off the bench. She said there’s plenty of competition for the backrow positions. Saints have a roster of 22 players, with 18 taking on the Broncos.
Wheeler’s enjoyed the training and believes the squad is gelling nicely.
“A few of the sessions have been really gruelling but the training has been really professional,’’ she said.
Wheeler hasn’t had a game since CRL Newcastle bowed out of the NSW Women’s Premiership about six weeks ago, so Sunday can’t arrive quickly enough.
It was announced last week that Australia will play New Zealand in New Zealand on October 13. Wheeler said a couple of standout performances in the next few weeks could realistically give her a shot at selection.
“This whole year has been amazing but to make the Jillaroos, well, that would be mind blowing,’’ she said.
Wheeler also thanks Warren Steedman from Rob's Shop Fitting, who has assisted her with some of the costs of travelling to Sydney.
She adds that all the time behind the wheel will be forgotten when she trots out on the field on Sunday wearing the famous Red V jumper for the first time.