An East Sydney Journey For Maddie Studdon

There have been some memorable rugby league players to come from a touch football background, and Sydney Roosters recruit Maddie Studdon is next in line to step up into the top grade from the highly athletic pathway.

Not only did she spend her younger years playing touch football, but it all started for her as a young girl in Eastern Sydney, having also grown up in Mascot.

Now set to make her debut for the Sydney Roosters Women's team in the inaugural season that's set to kick off in a matter of weeks, Studdon reflects on the path brought her from touch football to the Sydney Roosters.

"I started out playing touch football for Easts Roosters," she said of her touch football beginnings.

"I started when I was ten years old at Daceyville Oval, playing Junior State Cup all the way through to Senior State Cup and even had the honour of becoming the Captain.

"It was a real eye opener for skills and fitness and I'm so proud to be a part of the touch world, because that's what brought me to the rugby league circle."

From twelve to sixteen years of age, Maddie was unable to play in a junior rugby league competition due to the lack of pathways for girls in the game at the time, but made the most of the time she had away from the game.

During her hiatus from rugby league in her early teenage years, she focussed her attention on rising through the touch football ranks at Easts Roosters.

Despite her love and dedication to the game of rugby league, touch football holds a special place for Maddie and remains a part of her life today.

"I couldn't play rugby league after I turned twelve and I had to wait until I was sixteen before I could play again, so during that time I was just playing touch football.

"Even when I was playing rugby league as a young girl I was still playing touch and I still play every now and then.

"Sometimes I was put in a position where I had to pick one or the other, and rugby league was the priority.

"They still like me involved at Easts Roosters and I like to be involved with such a great family club, so I get back there every now and then to do what I can.

"It was a really good pathway for myself, and I hope I can help other young girls come through that pathway as well."

Maddie believes that playing touch football has had great benefits when it comes to shaping her style of play, especially as a halfback.

"The ball skills and decision making from touch has been massive in my transition to rugby league.

"My coach at the time would speak to me a lot about decision making, because my game was a lot more freestyle and focused on footwork.

"He told me that if I could get my decision making right that I could become a really good player.
"I've since changed my game to the role of a decision maker, keeping my eyes up and making the right decisions at the right times.

"That's what has helped me so much in rugby league, making decisions and thinking fast when you're coming up against defence."

A major inspiration to Maddie's career was touch football sensation Kristy Judd, who she modelled her game on as a youngster and found herself playing alongside in later years.

Judd is a former Australian touch representative and has played in the World Cup representing her country on several occasions.

Maddie recalled Judd as not just someone she looked up to, but a mentor that she still speaks to for advice on occasion.

"I really looked up to Kristy Judd, she's someone that I admired and also had the honour of playing with at Easts Roosters.

"She's a Sydney Roosters fan as well, and I keep in contact with her as much as I can.

"She's one of the best touch players I've ever seen, she's so smart and was a great leader.

"I replaced her as the leader when she retired which was a very proud moment in my touch career."

Now with the inaugural Women's Rugby League season just around the corner, Maddie is working hard to get prepared.

She would dream of moments like this when she was a young girl at Easts Roosters, and now she finds herself just weeks away from kick off and reality is well and truly sinking in.

"From playing touch and rugby league as a young girl, I did not think this would happen at all.

"Here I am sitting at Roosters HQ, getting physio treatment, getting ready for the first ever elite Women's Rugby League competition.

"I'm so honoured to be a part of something so special and happy that the game has come so far."

Still only 23 years of age, it's been a long and memorable journey so far for Maddie and everything is starting to come together ahead of the season kicking off.

Though it's still too early for the nerves to kick in, the excitement levels are high amongst the playing squad.

"No nerves just yet, it's nothing but excitement.

"It's been a really good lead up, there's good bonds forming with the girls and we're doing it all at a good Club.

"I honestly couldn't ask for anything more, it's so special."

You can catch Maddie Studdon and the rest of the Sydney Roosters Women's squad in action this Saturday night when they take to the field of Allianz Stadium for an open training session ahead of our NRL clash against the Brisbane Broncos.