Millie Boyle has withdrawn from the Jillaroos squad, citing how she wouldn’t be able to tour for such a prolonged period of time due to work commitments in Australia.
The NRLW premiership-winning forward for the Newcastle Knights revealed the bombshell on her social media account where she stated that while immensely proud of being selected for the Aussies, she wouldn’t be able to travel to England and compete.
“Millie is all about team first actions and putting her business and her participants needs ahead of her playing ambitions is the very epitome of team first,” Newcastle’s NRLW coach Ronald Griffiths said.
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“Such is the nature of the women’s game – these are not full-time athletes and as a result decisions are not as straightforward as they may seem.”
Boyle’s decision to remain at home and tend to the business she has established – supporting people living with disabilities – comes as a new collective bargaining agreement is being negotiated between the NRL and the Rugby League Players Association.
The absence of the world’s best front-rower in the women’s game during the World Cup tournament will only serve to heighten the calls for the sport to become professional in the near future.
In more bad news for the Jillaroos, Boyle’s Newcastle teammate and Karyn Murphy Medal winner on grand final day, Tamika Upton, has also withdrawn from the squad.
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Upton battled a calf complaint throughout the Knights’ successful finals campaign but has succumbed to the injury now the regular season has ended.
“Tamika missed two games at the end of the longest year of her career to date and having managed the injury through the semi and grand final, she needs to prioritise her recovery,” Griffiths said.
“No doubt, sitting out a World Cup is one of the hardest decisions a player will make in their career.”
The Australian Rugby League Commission wasted little time in confirming the two replacements for the star duo, with St George Illawarra pair Emma Tonegato and Shaylee Bent drafted into the squad.
The Jillaroos will travel to the UK after a short break before commencing the defence of their title against the Cook Islands on November 2nd.