Growing up in a rural New Zealand town, Botille Vette-Welsh probably wouldn’t have believed you if you told her that in 2020 she would she be playing NRLW, for New South Wales in State of Origin and captaining the Wests Tigers Women’s side in the flagship competition, the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership.
Despite a deep love for the All Blacks as a child, that is exactly where the talented fullback is today. She’s ready to make an impact.
Growing up in a small community, there were no rugby league opportunities for Vette-Welsh.
She would ply her trade in rugby union until a move to Sydney would change her life forever.
“I wasn’t keen on league for a few years. But one of my first ever experiences was when I saw Australia play New Zealand and then I saw a few people get smoked – it was then I decided to give it a go,” she said.
“At first it was pretty strange. I was playing league and union at the same time and it was a little bit tricky. It was a slow burn, but eventually I got to understand rugby league and I love it. The physicality and all.”
Rugby league, like it is to many who start playing, was a way Vette-Welsh could start making connections with people.
Now it has become a way of life.
“It is crazy. I never thought I would ever be part of something like this. Being in NRLW is a massive achievement. For me to get a spot, it was amazing. Just to get the experience – and the Roosters and Dragons are really behind their women’s teams, so it has been awesome to be part of,” she said.
“I went from never playing the sport to being in this competition with some of the best girls in the country. Being named alongside them is mind blowing. I am really grateful.”
While she’s excited to play NRLW again in 2020, her campaign for the Wests Tigers was something she will truly cherish.
Vette-Welsh said she was honoured to be named captain of one of Australia’s most iconic rugby league clubs.
“My job as captain is to inspire our girls coming through. We make sure that if we ever see someone sitting on the fence, they have the courage to jump off that fence and to give it a go. That’s what I did,” she said.
“It is awesome. I love the Tigers. We have a lot of fans who come along to our games and they come with the flags. We started at the bottom, but now we’re growing our grassroots and that development for young girls, and even boys who can see their mums and sisters play, is vital.”
In her words: The State of Origin experience
“I didn’t watch much rugby league growing up – but I played rugby union for NSW. So to be selected was amazing. It is so cool to be part of and such a surreal feeling.
“I remember last year when we went to North Sydney Oval there were so many people watching. It was awesome. There were thousands of people lined up for the under-18s match as well.
“It is great to see people supporting us and also supporting the younger kids coming through. I hadn’t experienced something like that before.”