NRL Women's star Brittany Breayley and Cutters' champion Jayden Hodges at BB Print Stadium for the announcement of a three-year partnership between BHP and the QRL.
NRL Women's star Brittany Breayley and Cutters' champion Jayden Hodges at BB Print Stadium for the announcement of a three-year partnership between BHP and the QRL. Daniel McKenzie

Stars align as QRL and BHP join forces

Rugby league: Humbled by the chance to inspire the next generation and seeing a chance to build on reconciliation, both Brittany Breayley and Jayden Hodges see a "huge opportunity” in Queensland Rugby League's new partnership.

At BB Print Stadium on Thursday for the announcement that the QRL would be joining forces with mining giant BHP for a three-year community partnership, Breayley, the NRL Women's best player and Mackay Cutters' Hodges, a former Cowboy and Sea Eagle, were humbled to be the faces of the new venture.

The partnership will see BHP featured on the back of the Indigenous training jersey worn by the Queensland Maroons, as well as the sleeves of the Queensland Women's team and will extend to the Intrust Super Cup's Get in the Game Country Week, and the Indigenous Round in July.

A key component of the partnership will focus on welfare, wellbeing, and player visits with BHP and its communities, which Hodges said would be "massive for our region”.

"It's very exciting to hear the ideas around the grassroots level and how they (BHP) want to engage with the Indigenous community and provide opportunities,” he said.

"That to me is reconciliation; coming together, and just to be a part of it is a privilege. Especially being an Indigenous man playing in Indigenous Round, with BHP and the QRL coming together, it gives us the opportunity to play for our families and culture as well.”

STARRING ROLES: Brittany Breayley and Jayden Hodges at BB Print Stadium for the announcement of a three-year partnership between BHP and the QRL.
STARRING ROLES: Brittany Breayley and Jayden Hodges at BB Print Stadium for the announcement of a three-year partnership between BHP and the QRL. Daniel McKenzie

QRL director Renita Garard joined BHP representatives Melissa Johnson and Edan Stolberg in Mackay for the announcement, where she spoke about the enormous potential of the community-focused alignment.

"To team up with an organisation of the stature of BHP is a major coup for rugby league in Queensland,” Garard said.

"Like us, BHP is passionate about all sectors of the community, so it's satisfying to have them backing our Indigenous and women's programs.”

With a key focus on supporting the women's game from the grassroots through to Origin level, Johnson said the partnership would support participation.

"We are thrilled to be directly supporting the Women's State of Origin team, and to be able to work alongside elite players like Mackay's Brittany Breayley,” she said.

Awarded the Dally M Medal for the NRL Women's best player in 2018, Breayley was also part of the first ever Women's State of Origin and a premiership player with the Broncos.

Despite not playing the game in an official capacity until she was 17, the now 28-year-old said the QRL and BHP partnership was a further sign the women's game continues to grow in "leaps and bounds”.

"It's a huge time for women in any sport; league in particular, and I can't thank BHP enough for jumping on board and investing in the great game we love so much,” Breayley said.

"I can only see the game growing further and seeing there's opportunities for the younger generation of league, not just boys, but girls, is a proud moment and I'm proud to be part of it.”

Based in Brisbane, Breayley said a highlight was being able to make community and school visits, which she hoped to be a part of now in regional areas through the new partnership.

"It's giving us the opportunity to get out to central Queensland - you get a lot of opportunities to do that in Brisbane - so giving back to the communities and where I'm from will be a big part of it,” she said.

"I'm hoping there's a little girl out there who in the back of her mind wants to play but doesn't understand what it is to be involved... If I can twist someone's arm and make a little girl want to play rugby league, then I'm actually humbled by the opportunity.”



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