HISTORY will be made this Saturday, when the Stingrays of Shellharbour's under 18s girls rugby league team run onto the field for the first time.
For John Simon and Clay Girdler and their side, it will be a monumental moment for the club - who will battle the reigning premiers Berkeley from 10.30am at Berkeley Sportsground.
But that day will represent years of hard work to get the side into a position where they are ready to play in this Illawarra competition.
"Over the last couple of years, there have been a few requests from girls about the possibility of playing tackle league but there was not enough numbers to truly consider entering a side," Stingrays club president Matt Poort said.
"Our club numbers are strong in girls league tag, which is definitely beneficial moving forward.
"At the back end of last year we were able to generate interest early enough to get the numbers for the Illawarra November Nines last year.
"The girls performed really well, actually winning this tournament in their first attempt which was extremely exciting for the girls.
"As a result, five girls, Teagan Berry, Riley Scott, Rhiannon Tungai, Madi Singleton and Alex Wallace were selected in the Illawarra Steelers Tarsha Gale squad.
"The momentum created off the back of this result was the catalyst for entering the girls under 18 competition this season.
"Most of the girls from the Nines team form part of the clubs inaugural girls under 18s tackle team."
The majority of the group have been training together since February 16, focusing on the tackle aspect of the game, while their Illawarra Steelers contingent were busy winning the Tarsha Gale premiership.
"Going into our first game, you always should have an expectation to win," Poort said.
"Especially if you are able to apply what you practise but realistically, it is going to be very different to the shorter format nines competition which they were successful in last year.
"It will be 11 players a side on the field and 30 minutes each way, so the fitness element will be a factor despite there being unlimited interchange.
"The girls rate of improvement in their skill levels and development will increase the more they actually get to play and experience the action on the field."
Joining the Steelers quintet in the squad are Lily McWilliams, Piper Lucas, Ruby Lecerf, Zoe Parkes, Kyraleigh Jarvis, Isabella Mojanovski, Taylah Vella, Ella Simon, Teagan Williams, Mackenzie Lear, Tayla Davis, Imigen Byrne, Katie Saunders and Lilli O'Dea - a playing group Poort hopes acts as motivation for more girls to get involved in rugby league.
"Essentially from a club perspective, we have plenty of girls playing league tag, with nine junior sides and two women's sides," he said.
"With that strong junior base, it's important to maintain their involvement in both the club and the sport, so there was always going to be the potential to go down this path - even more so now the women's NRL is receiving the exposure that it has.
"The support from the Illawarra Rugby League has been great considering we are affiliated with Group Seven and there's an increased focus on developing women's rugby league from the NRL.
"We know that there are more girls who aren't old enough to play yet that want to, so it would be silly of us as a club to ignore this."
Fellow Group Seven club Milton-Ulladulla, who finished second last season, will take on Corrimal at Robert Ziems Park in the round's other match.