There was no pathway to the elite level when Hannah Southwell first starting playing rugby league at age five.
In fact, the Kotara Bears junior had to stop playing the game she loved at 11 because there was no female competition until adult age.
That is no longer the case.
Now the Knights NRLW captain and lock, Southwell and her teammates are inspiring a whole new generation of players.
You can't be what you can't see.
Young girls like Makayla Brogan can clearly see their role models and a pathway to NRLW.
The 11-year-old is one of two girls who played in a division 2 boys' team with Western Suburbs Junior Rugby League Club this year.
The young second-rower or lock loves stepping around her opposition and her favourite NRLW player is Southwell's younger sister and Knights star 18-year-old halfback Jesse.
"She can kick the ball really good," Brogan said.
The Wests junior is at all of the Knights game and will be in the stands at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday afternoon when minor premiers and defending champions Newcastle do battle with Brisbane in a sudden death semi-final.
It is a moment Southwell could never have imagined at the same age.
"It's huge, for myself and all of the local girls," Southwell told the Newcastle Herald this week.
"We've never had that before. Newcastle have never been minor premiers before in men and women's teams, and to have a home semi is unreal ... I know Newy is going to turn up for us, especially being a semi, so I'm very excited."
Western Suburbs Junior Rugby League Club president Ben Werbowyj said the interest was increasing in the female space.
The club have fielded teams in under 13s, under 15s and under 17s for the past two seasons and this year registrations for junior women's tackle sides were over 60 players.
"What we're seeing now across the competition is other teams are starting to get more registrations as well," Werbowyj said.
"Interest is increasingly growing. The biggest groundswell for us is girls talking amongst themselves socially, school and other things like that, and some girls trying it out instead of other sports.
"It is quite good at a club level for us as well. We might have our 15s boys play then they hang around to support the next team up, which would be the 15s women's tackle, just like they would any other side.
"So they get clapped out of the sheds. They sit around and hang on the fence to support them and vice versa. So that stigma of 'that's girls playing' is definitely gone."
Shiloh Ivin played lock in Wests under 13s women's side.
"This was my first year," Ivin said.
"It was just people that went to school around me. A lot of the boys played rugby league and I thought, maybe as a girl you could play and I might be good at it.
"It's been good. I liked how you could take your anger out on the game with the contact."
The 14-year-old has been at a number of the Knights' NRLW games and see the players "as good role models".
Her Wests teammate Maeve Costello is also heading to the game on Sunday and the 14-year-old fullback got her first taste of the sport this year as well.
"I'd played for school a lot but not for a team until this year," Costello said.
"I wanted to play when I was younger but they didn't have any teams for me. I found Wests through Shiloh and decided to play with her this year.
"I liked the tackling, and just letting all my anger out."
Wests fullback Josie Agland, 14, and second-rower Ava Henderson, 13, also played for the first time this year and relished the contact as well.
Henderson's favourite player is dynamic Knights fullback Tamika Upton, who has fans on the edge of their seats every time she touches the ball.
"It's just the way she runs the ball," Henderson, who hopes to one day play NRLW, said.
Upton told media this week the team were "riding on the support of the Newcastle fans and community".
"It's something that this club is built off, the fans," Upton said.
Knights coach Ron Griffiths urged the town to turn out in force and promised they wouldn't be disappointed.
"There's always the expectation that we'll leave a performance out there that's full of grit and a performance that inspires the next generation and something everyone can be proud of," Griffiths said.
"You'll see a world-class game that will be very tough and it will be full of very enterprising, fast-paced, exciting rugby league.
"You've got elite female athletes who are at the top of their games."
The game kicks off at 2.05pm on Sunday.
General Admission (GA) tickets are available from $10. Two children under the age of 18 go free with each GA ticket.