Former Canowindra Tigers League Tag star Jade Harding has secured a spot on the roster in the Canberra Raiders' Tarsha Gale team.
The Raiders kicked off their 2024 campaign in a highly anticipated match against the Newcastle Knights on Saturday, February 3.
Seeking redemption after a 16-6 defeat to Newcastle in last year's finals series but they were unable to avenge the defeat, going down 16-10.
With a nearly revamped squad, the Raiders are aiming to nurture young talent and make a mark throughout the nine-round competition.
Reflecting on her unexpected selection, Jade Harding expressed her shock and pride.
"It was a huge shock finding out," she said.
"Moving down here when I went to the trial game, it was my very first game of tackle footy ever, and sort of hearing that I'd even progressed into the development squad, I was really, really shocked.
"I felt quite proud of myself," she said.
Harding shed light on the rigorous selection process, involving three trial games with recorded footage reviewed by the coaches.
GPS trackers were utilized to monitor players' efforts, combining all components to determine team placement.
Pre-season training, held three times a week, played a crucial role in preparing for these trials.
While acknowledging the challenges ahead, particularly in terms of confidence, Harding remains positive about her role in the team.
"Confidence is something I'm expecting to have challenges with because all the other girls have been playing for a really long time, and they know each other more," she said.
Expressing her commitment to self-improvement, Harding emphasised the importance of accountability.
"Keeping myself accountable and putting in the effort to show that I still want it, and if I make a mistake, I want to be able to pick myself back up and say no, let's just keep moving forward."
Harding, who commonly plays in the winger and centre positions, credits her coaches and teammates for creating a supportive environment.
"Everyone is very, very inclusive and very supportive of each other," she said.
Looking ahead, Harding sets ambitious goals for herself.
"My first goal was making it through the trials and actually getting into the team," she said.
"I'd like to become an overall dangerous player, and I believe I'm striving to get signed to a team as well."
Expressing gratitude for her mother's unwavering support, Harding also acknowledged the role of coaches in her earlier league tag experiences.
"My mum has always supported me, always had faith in me. My coaches in league tag, Andrew Pull and Craig Newcombe, they really helped me fall in love with the sport," she said.