From a premiership to bushfires and pandemic.
As the world came to grips with the COVID-19 lockdowns earlier this year, injured Brisbane Broncos, Blues and Jillaroos prop Millie Boyle wanted to make most of a tough situation – and it may have helped fast track her return to the field.
It has been a whirlwind year and a half for Boyle. A few days after winning the 2019 NRLW grand final with Brisbane Broncos, she noticed she was unable to turn her head.
But she pressed on through the pain in the neck to represent the Jillaroos at the World Cup Nines and then in the Test match. Two days later she got an MRI which revealed she had a bulging disc.
Then, in early 2020, Boyle returned to her hometown of Cobargo to help her community as the New South Wales bushfire crisis took hold.
She was desperate to help out and told tales of how her family bravely saved the family farm.
With so much going on in the world, 22-year-old Boyle was still staring the barrel of a long stint on the sidelines.
Then it took yet another turn.
In March, she left her home in Queensland to attend a New South Wales Origin Camp for a few weeks in Sydney and the last thing she would ever have expected is to get stuck.
The original plan was to attend camp and work through her recovery aiming to play for the Blues again in 2020. Then came the border closures.
“It is crazy, you don’t expect a global pandemic to happen,” Boyle said.
“We had an Origin camp in March, so I drove to Sydney to attend and catch up with some people. Then it all hit pretty badly.
“Our camp got cancelled and the restrictions came in. I ended up staying down in Sydney to work as a nanny for [BaiMed Physio] Michael Baines, our Origin physio, and his wife’s kids while they worked.
“I got well looked after there and I am back on track to play pretty soon. Taking a positive out of a negative, it helped in the recovery.” Boyle admits the down time was focused on getting her body prepared for the 2020 NRLW season, State of Origin and keeping a hopeful eye on the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in Europe.
While she didn’t miss any football – she did in fact worry about the status of the NRLW. With so much uncertainty around the timelines, Australian Rugby League Commission Chair Peter V’Landys finally delivered the good news.
The NRLW would be back in 2020.
“It is unreal to have the support from the NRL to get our game back. It means there is a fair bit of loyalty there to us and they are committed – we want to show everyone how much that means to us,” Boyle said.
“It was tough earlier this year with everything in the air. NRLW has done so much for women’s sports and for us who grew up loving rugby league dreaming of a chance to play, and the past players before us who have built so much momentum.
“Now we are back. Our pathways can continue to develop, and we can keep building rugby league – hopefully to possible expansion of the NRLW soon. And we have a World Cup next year. We just wanted to keep building.
“I am just excited to get back out there.”
Boyle will return to the field with the Burleigh Bears before the 2020 NRLW season gets underway.