ONE of the town’s most successful league exports made a cameo appearance at Muswellbrook South Public School (MSPS) on Friday to hand out awards and inspiration at their sports presentation.
Upper Hunter born and bred Jamie Feeney played 132 games and scored 24 tries between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm in an eight-year career that lasted from 1999 to 2006.
Now, the former MSPS student currently holds the roles of NRL Elite Female Pathways manager and Australian Jillaroos assistant coach.
Upon his return to the school, he spoke about his time in the game and exploits post-career – and made the day of some very excited prize recipients.
He took the opportunity to speak to the Chronicle about how important it was for girls to get into the sport, and how the women’s game was developing.
“I’ve been involved in [women’s] league at NSW level since 2015 and it’s just grown so quick,” he said.
“Being a part of it and the growth of the game, and helping build the game, is really exciting.
“I think we’re going to grow it but we’re going to grow it slowly, so the quality is there for everyone to see, which we witnessed this year in the Jillaroos’ Test, the State of Origin and the NRLW.”
The retired second-rower encouraged Muswellbrook youngsters to have high hopes, noting a couple of players such as Australian player Caitlin Moran and NRLW rising star Brydie Parker as an example of home-grown success.
“The pathways now are a lot clearer and I think girls from at home can go through and represent Australia,” the 40-year-old said.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for everyone and the growth of the women’s game in country areas is really exciting.”
Feeney is enjoying his return home and will even pop into the Hunter Valley Group 21 Women’s Nines decider at Olympic Park on Friday night.