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Tarsha Gale Roosters: Out to Make History

After claiming the Club’s maiden Tarsha Gale Title in 2022, the Sydney Roosters Indigenous Academy coaches Blake Cavallaro and Ray Windle sat down with their team at the beginning of pre-season to discuss what it would take to go back-to-back.

A plan was devised to break the season into three phases, affording the team an opportunity to reflect at the conclusion of each phase before entering the next.

The first marked the opening five rounds of the competition before the second phase commenced following the team’s Round 6 bye.

This week marks the start of phase three, finals.

With preparations well underway for the team’s semi-final showdown with the Newcastle Knights, Cavallaro says he is confident in his squad's ability to rise to the occasion. 

“We’ve been doing really well this year and have been lifting when it matters so I have no doubt they’ll perform well under the pressure that surrounds a finals match,” he said.

“The girls are really close, they have bonded a lot this year both on and off the field, it’s been great to see.”

Led by captain and Australian Schoolgirl Ally Bullman, Cavallaro believes the side is in good hands under the forward’s leadership.

Ally brings so much to the team, she’s someone who leads by her actions and she has really good words of advice too.

Blake Cavallaro Sydney Roosters Indigenous Academy Coach

“She’s always the first one in the line to demonstrate a skill and get to the next skill rotation. She’s always someone who leads by example.”

In her first year as Captain, Bullman showed her point-scoring prowess, scoring seven tries and slotting 18 conversions.

Last season, the rising star kicked two conversions in the grand final, steering her team to a 12-10 victory over the Knights at CommBank Stadium. She knows her experience playing in tough games will come in handy as the team prepares for a grand-final rematch this weekend.

Ally Bullman (middle) celebrates the Roosters' first Tarsha Gale title with Lizzie Lomostuart and Zali Fulton last year.
Ally Bullman (middle) celebrates the Roosters' first Tarsha Gale title with Lizzie Lomostuart and Zali Fulton last year.

“It’s really exciting because I’m one of the most experienced people in the team from last year and carrying that into this season, I feel really comfortable stepping into my role as a leader,” she said.

“All the experience and advice I get from the Roosters coaches and other representative coaches I take on board and try to bring it to the team, so we can build on ideas and keep making the women’s pathway better overall.”

Knowing the work that goes into winning a title, Cavallaro and Bullman recognise that going back-to-back is no easy feat and will take a significant amount of discipline, perseverance, honesty, trust and respect – core values identified the squad. 

“We’re very fortunate to have won the premiership last year and have the opportunity to defend that title again this year,” Cavallaro said. “Our staff know exactly what the preparation looks like, so it’s all about just getting the processes right.”

“We don’t want to change too much, but we'll focus more on the details heading into Saturday’s game… having finals experience as coaches and also having Ally as a captain will really assist us.”

The 19-year-old skipper knows the on-field role she must play to help her team secure a spot in the decider, but more importantly, she understands that semi-finals football will feel different for each of her teammates.

With leadership abilities and game knowledge beyond her years, Bullman will encourage her teammates to back themselves ahead of Saturday’s game, knowing they have left no stone unturned in their preparation and are hungry to make history as the first team to secure consecutive Tarsha Gale titles.

“In my role as captain, I try to take the nerves out of the game. I reinforce that it’s just a normal 60-minute match and make sure the girls don’t overthink it, because it can be easy to do sometimes,” she said. “It’s so important for us to just play our game and the on-field opportunities will come because we’ve nailed the preparation.”

“Personally, I stick to the same routine no matter the occasion, I just have to make sure myself and the team are focused on the task at hand and we make the most of our chances when they arise.”

This Saturday at 2:45pm the Sydney Roosters Indigenous Academy will face the Newcastle Knights at Leichhardt Oval in the Tarsha Gale Cup Semi-Final, commencing the third and final phase of their season.

One hour of maximum effort, strength, bravery and determination stands between Bullman’s team and their place in the Grand Final. 

The game will be live streamed on NSWRL TV, be sure to tune in!

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.