XANTI Hand has taken a big step towards making Australia’s elite women’s rugby league competition.
The former Coffs Harbour Comet’s player has earnt a place in the Sydney Roosters women’s under 19 Indigenous Academy squad.
The 17-year-old has spent the past month taking part in trial matches for the Roosters as she successfully trialled for the clubs under 19’s team.
Hand is part of the Roosters squad who compete in this year’s Tarsha Gale Cup – a nine round competition played predominantly in Sydney.
The young NRLW prospect is currently completing her Year 12 in Sydney after studying at Nambucca Heads in recent years.
It’s easy to see why Hand was on the Roosters radar.
The outside back has had a decorated start to her rugby league career as a multiple premiership winning player in Group 2 Rugby League competitions.
The Roosters recruit started her junior career at the Sawtell Panthers where she was part of the under 12’s premiership winning team.
She then played girls league tag for the Panthers before the family moved to Nambucca Heads.
Playing for the Nambucca Heads Roosters saw her captain the under 16’s girls league tag team to a premiership win in 2018.
The try scoring speedster would continue her winning ways in 2019 as part of the Coffs Harbour Comets women’s league tag premiership winning team.
The premiership success continued at the 2019 Koori Knockout, where she was part of the winning La Perouse under 16’s girls team and first got the attention of the Roosters.
Now for the next few months she takes on some of the best junior female players in the country.
But living away from home in a big city meant doubts started creeping into the talented juniors mind, according to her father Jimi.
“It almost didn’t happen, as she was thinking of quitting due to loneliness and she said to me she wanted to do the Roosters thing but I don’t want to be alone,” he said.
“Her sisters went down to see her and reassured her that it would be alright.”
The proud father told News Of The Area it was a big move for his daughter to relocate to Sydney to pursue her rugby league dream.
“She’s sacrificed a lot, as she misses the North Coast lifestyle, her family and friends and boyfriend and also playing for the Comets,” he said.
The Roosters opened their season with a 42-0 Round 1 win against the Canterbury Bulldogs, before a 10-4 loss to the Illawarra Steelers in Round 2.
By Aiden BURGESS