After being recently reselected in the Rebels Super W side for 2019, Masters reflected on her pathway to becoming one of the key pillars of the side’s forward pack.
At 33 years of age, Masters finds herself as one of the oldest players on the Rebels’ playing list.However, while she may hold a number of years over her Super W teammates, she can still lay claim to being only relatively new to the game of rugby.“My junior pathway started when I was 27,” Masters said.“I was a late bloomer, I didn’t play my first game of rugby until I was 27 years old after I moved to Melbourne.”
One of the key reasons for Masters not being able to take up the sport she now loves was due to the locality of where she grew up.“I grew up on Christmas island, and rugby wasn’t available because it such a small community,” she says.“There’s only about 2000 people there. It’s very outdoors based. It’s a tropical island, so we spent most of our time outside, but there wasn’t a lot of things to do in terms of playing rugby.”While most would know Christmas Island as one of the epicentres of Australia’s polarising debate surrounding immigration, Masters says the overwhelming memory of her childhood home was the simple life which the small island situated 2,600km north-west of Perth offered.“Unfortunately, Christmas Island is so well known because of the boats, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that,” she said.“It’s an incredible environmental place, and it’s relatively untouched.”
Readjusting to a new life was something which Masters had to accustom herself to when she was forced to move to Perth for high school, due to Christmas Island not having the resources to support those moving into year 11 and 12.While she boarded in Western Australia’s Capital, Masters experienced her first real involvement in sport when she took up the opportunity to play Australian Rules football.It was something which she continued to pursue when she moved to Melbourne at age 19, where Masters developed into a strong footballer and earned state selection for Victoria Metro.
And while it may seem odd that she now finds herself in Victoria’s premier women’s rugby team after playing so much Aussie rules football, Masters says she fell in love with union as soon as she was able to participate in a training session.“I was playing footy at Melton Central and one of the girls involved at the club was trying to start a women’s rugby team and she asked if I wanted to go and check out some training sessions and I thought why not,” Masters said.“I went to my first training session while I was still playing netball with a friend and after the first session, I said let’s just quit netball and play rugby instead and that’s where it started.”One of the reasons Masters says she loves playing rugby is due to the high levels of technicality which encompasses the code.
The prop also says it’s one of the rarer sports where people of different athletic abilities and sizes can all amalgamate into the one team.“Rugby is a lot more technical than Aussie rules,” she said.“A lot of other sports you have to have the same physical capability to be a successful member and contribute to the team, whereas in rugby, it embraces a more diverse range of people into the sport.”While most in the Super W side are excited about the upcoming opening game, Masters says she feels prouder about being part of a bigger movement of developing women’s rugby.
A movement which she hopes will inspire girls to follow her suit into the Super W pathway.“The most exciting thing about the Super season W is about getting the game out there more into the public space,” she said.“For women’s rugby, and our younger youth girls coming through, people see us as players that they play with or against in club season. Then when they see that they can actually reach the next level like we have, it gives them the idea and the motivation that they can do it too.”