Friday , July 12 2024

Remi Wilton: York Valkyrie hooker goes from outback cattle station to the Women’s Super League | Rugby League News

Isis Downs is a cattle station in the middle of the isolated Queensland outback. It covers 2,327 square kilometres with a carrying capacity of up to 24,000 head of cattle, and the nearest most populous place is the town of Blackall, 88 kilometres away to the east of the ranch.

It is where, for the past two years, you would also have found Remi Wilton, the ex-Canberra Raiders rugby league captain and former Australia A rugby union international who went from chasing a ball around a field to rounding up cows.

The 27-year-old has now resumed her league career after moving to the UK to join reigning Betfred Women’s Super League champions York Valkyrie for the 2024 season and while she would have rather not had her sporting ambitions interrupted, she has no regrets about the completely different path her life took her down.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster,” Wilton told Sky Sports. “It’s been up and down, and a couple of circumstances changed when I was on the verge of making the Wallaroos team.

“I ended up moving up to a different state in Australia which, I look back now, and I wish I would have stayed, but it was what it was at the time and equally I’m pretty happy I did that.

“I got to experience quite a few different things and even though it meant a bit of time off footy it was definitely worth it.

“In a way, I think the break has made me more hungry for it and pretty keen to get back into my footy, so it probably did me a bit of good and I’m really ready to have a good crack at it this year.”

York Valkyrie were crowned Betfred Women’s Super League champions for the first time with a 16-6 victory over Leeds Rhinos in last year’s Grand Final

Wilton played both codes in her youth, first league up to the age of 12 and then switching to the 15-a-side code at the boarding school she attended. From there she would go on to play for the Raiders and then the Brumbies in the Super W competition.

It was while playing at scrum-half for the Brumbies she was called into the national set-up, earning caps for the Australia A side during the 2019 Oceania Women’s Rugby Championship in New Zealand.

Wilton had initially intended to pursue station life on leaving school before rugby took precedence and when circumstances changed, she seized the chance to move to Queensland and get stuck into it following a spell working in the mining industry.

“It’s very flat-out and full-on, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Wilton said of the nature of life on a cattle station. “It’s the best experience, even though we’ve got so many flies and dust, they’re long days and it’s [working] dark to dark – but it’s totally worth it and it’s so rewarding.

LAUTOKA, FIJI - NOVEMBER 22: Remi Wilton of Australia A during the Oceania Rugby Women's Championship Series match between the New Zealand Black Ferns Development XV and Australia A at Churchill Park on November 22, 2019 in Lautoka, Fiji. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)
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Remi Wilton in action for Australia A in 2019

“It keeps you busy and that’s what I love, so it was awesome to be able to do that for a couple of years and chase a few cows around and get chased by a couple as well. I suppose there was a bit of footy practice in there at a few points, but it’s a really rewarding experience.

“The teamwork out there is essential. If you don’t work together, you don’t get the whole mob of cattle in the yards, and that’s what you’re there for. If you miss cattle, it affects next year’s calves and cows, and missing out on the revenue which comes with the beef cattle in the industry.

“It’s crucial to have really good teamwork and that’s whether you’re on a bike, a horse or a chopper in the air. When you think about it like that, it’s quite full-on and it works really well.”

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Picking up a rugby ball again on her return home during the wet season reignited the fire for playing and a mutual friend of her father’s in the UK helped set up a conversation with York director of rugby Lindsay Anfield over joining the BWSL champions.

It’s very flat-out and full-on, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the best experience, even though we’ve got so many flies and dust, they’re long days and it’s [working] dark to dark – but it’s totally worth it and it’s so rewarding.

York’s Remi Wilton on life on a Queensland cattle station

Within weeks, she had agreed to join the Valkyrie as cover for Sinead Peach, with the England international missing the rest of the year due to pregnancy and arrived in the UK just under three weeks ago.

Five days after arriving on these shores, the 27-year-old was straight into match action on the interchange bench as York won 28-8 away to Barrow Raiders, following up on the 20-16 win at home to St Helens in the league campaign opener.

“What better way to start?” Wilton said. “It’s always good to be in a winning team, but there is just a wealth of knowledge with the girls already and Lindsay as our coach.

“I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks, but you can see it already and it just shows. Watching the St Helens game before I flew over here, it was exciting.

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Last season’s Woman of Steel Sinead Peach believes Leeds Rhinos and St Helen’s are the big threats to reigning Betfred Women’s Super League champions York Valkyrie

“It was a bit of a nail-biter towards the end and gets your heart racing, but it’s exciting to watch a team like that and then be able to dive straight in with them and hear what’s behind it. The way the girls talk, teach and help each other out is impressive.”

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Wilton could well be involved on Saturday as the Valkyrie face Saints again, this time at Doncaster’s Eco-Power Stadium in the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup semi-finals where they will be aiming to dethrone the holders and reach Wembley for the first time.

Along with wanting to help York claim more silverware, the hooker has her own ambitions of establishing herself at the top of the game again. A return to Australia to play in the NRLW would be an opportunity she would seize at some point, but her two-year working visa means Wilton would be delighted to stay with her current side in 2025 as well.

“Everyone wants to get the premiership at the end of the season, and that would be awesome to be able to come over here, work with a great bunch of girls, a great club and get a second year in a row for them,” Wilton said.

“Everything else will come; obviously I want to get to the best point in my career I can and get as high as I can in that, but if I can play some good footy with a good team around me then everything else which can come will and I’ll see what happens.”

Sky Sports’ live coverage of the Betfred Women’s Super League begins on Friday May 24 when St Helens take on Leeds Rhinos at the Totally Wicked Stadium. Watch every Betfred Super League match on Sky Sports in 2024 and stream with NOW.

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El deporte es una actividad física y competitiva que involucra habilidades, destrezas y esfuerzo físico. Se practica en todo el mundo y puede ser individual o en equipo. Los deportes fomentan la salud, la camaradería y la competencia sana, y varían desde deportes al aire libre como el fútbol y el tenis hasta deportes de interior como el baloncesto y el ajedrez. Cada deporte tiene sus propias reglas y objetivos, pero todos promueven un estilo de vida activo y saludable.

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