Story re-published with permission from ABC Sport
In recent weeks, the NRL has released the draw for the 2021 Women's Premiership set to be played in 2022.
After a series of postponements and cancellations, this finally gives certainty to the teams competing and allows the players and their support staff to begin preparation in earnest.
With three new teams introduced into the competition, part of that preparation must be around team culture and for the new teams in particular, they have a unique chance to establish the values and standards driving their respective playing groups.
For Gold Coast Titans recruit Tazmin Gray, this is an exciting opportunity, particularly given the welcome the club has given its inaugural team including access to staff, facilities and medical support.
"We haven't had much opportunity to come together as a team, but so far our interactions with the club have felt inclusive," Gray said.
"For us as female athletes, it doesn't feel like we have been put on the backburner; we feel like we are already part of the club."
The Titans have recruited strongly with a mix of upcoming talent and experienced campaigners, but it's clear that for new coach Jamie Feeney, performance on the field was only one element he was considering during the recruitment phase.
Georgia Hale is a Veronica White medallist and was the 2020 Young New Zealander of the year. Karina Brown has been part of the Australian Jillaroos set up since 2013 and has also been central in building two women's footy clubs in Queensland; the Burleigh Bears and Easts Tigers. These women are talented players, but also exceptional leaders in their own right.
For Gray, alongside women like Hale and Brown, she recognises their important role in establishing the culture in a new team, particularly with a coach like Feeney whose approach is to work side by side with his players.
"We have some great experience and some emerging talent, despite it being a new team that has come together," Gray said.
"For me, I want to lead from the front and show the younger women the way not just on the field but off it too because having great people is what breeds a great team.
"As a start, we have really focused on making sure it is a comfortable and safe place for people to be who they are.
"If you can't be yourself, or don't know who you are it is really hard to work out where you stand within a group."