Tea Gardens league star Lily-Ann White earns Newcastle Knights Tarsha Gale Cup Player of Year Award

Lily-Ann White receives her Newcastle Knights Tarsha Gale Cup Player of the Year Award Trophy. She is pictured with her Knights coach Andrew Johnson.

EMERGING schoolgirl rugby league ace Lily-Ann White has capped a memorable representative season by reaching two major milestones.

The versatile seventeen-year-old from Tea Gardens was recently named the Newcastle Knights’ Tarsha Gale Cup Under 18s Player of the Year and last week earned another State jumper when selected in the women’s NSW Combined High Schools team.

It has been a season to savour for the talented rookie who has shone at half back, fullback and five eighth across different competition formats.

A modest Lily-Ann told News Of The Area, “Taking out the Tarsha Gale Cup Player of the Year award for the Knights was a huge thrill.

“It was a pleasant surprise after reaching the finals and then to gain selection in the NSW Schoolgirls side was a real bonus,” Lily-Ann revealed.

The boom teenager received her prestigious trophy during the Knights’ Junior Representative Awards Night at the M.ex Club in Mayfield.

After joining the Knights system as a development player last season in the Tarsha Gale Cup, the promising White proved a sensation at fullback – helping Newcastle reach the 2023 semi finals where they were eliminated by eventual premiers the Indigenous Academy Roosters at Leichhardt Oval.

She was a stand out for the Northern schoolgirls representative team at the State Championships in Wollongong – guiding her side to two victories from four matches with skilful performances at five eighth and fullback.

Lily-Ann, a student at Hunter River High School, will line up in the number six jumper for NSW CHS at the National Schoolgirls Championships to be staged from June 27 to July 7 at Redcliffe.

The outstanding utility is sure to be in the mix when selectors name an Australian Schoolgirls team after the Carnival for a tour of Papua New Guinea.

She will be joined in the NSW squad by Hunter Sports High School lock Ryver Lee Arlo and forward Sophie Smith.

Lily-Ann started her rugby league career as a ten-year-old winger and hooker with the Myall River Hawks mixed Under 11s side in the Newcastle-Hunter Junior competition.

At the age of twelve she spent a season with the Thornton-Beresfield Bears as a halfback before linking with the Raymond Terrace Roosters.

Wearing the number seven, Lily-Ann figured in four successive Grand Final defeats from Under 14s before joining the Raymond Terrace Magpies this season.

The classy White is gaining invaluable experience as a half back in the Magpies A Grade women’s team where she can mix it with former Jillaroos and more seasoned opponents.

It won’t be the first time Lily-Ann pulls on a NSW jumper.

Last year she represented the NSW Maoris as a fullback in the Harmony Cup and helped the Under 18 Blues clinch the tournament with victories over the Cook Islands, Tonga and Indigenous at Wollongong.

She was also blooded on the wing for the NSW Maori Open women’s team that defeated Fiji in Sydney.

A sharp running back with natural ball skills, Lily-Ann was also selected in the NSW All Schools Rugby Sevens team last season but withdrew due to her commitments with the Newcastle-Maitland Under 17s side at the Country Rugby League championships.

The gifted schoolgirl dreams of one day running out for the Knights in the NRLW competition and hopefully for NSW and the world champion Jillaroos.

“That would give me a huge buzz,” said the Newcastle sensation with the world at her feet.

By Chris KARAS

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