Sydney Roosters star Corban Baxter has claimed an unwanted piece of history by becoming among the first NRLW players to miss a premiership match due to COVID-19.
The Roosters captain was a late withdrawal from the Roosters’ team for their season-opener against Brisbane on Sunday, testing positive just days out.
New Zealand prop Samantha Economos was also ruled out with the virus — after both the NRL and NRLW competitions got through the first two years of the pandemic without players missing games due to testing positive for the virus.
“Unfortunately COVID got me at the worst of times and has ruled me out for the start of the NRLW Premiership,” Baxter posted on Instagram.
“Absolutely gutted, but it’s been a long wait for the girls and I’m so excited to watch them tear it up today.
“Goodluck to all teams. Backing my Chookies all day every day, let’s gooooo.”
The timing of the positive test will leave both Baxter and Economos in doubt to face Gold Coast in Wollongong next Sunday.
But the 27-year-old Baxter knows she will play a key role on her return, set to wear the No.1 jersey for the Roosters.
She is also feeling more comfortable as a leader, after skippering the Maori All Stars earlier this month.
“I feel like that leadership role sort of fell into my lap and I’ve just rolled with it,” Baxter told AAP.
“I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s been a growth experience.
“But I just feel like these girls are my mates and I’m someone that they can look to for support on and off the field.
“I’m not the hugest talker, I actually hate the sound of my own voice.
“I like to think I lead with action and I leave the talking to the generals on the field.”
Baxter has been a key player in the steep rise of the women’s game in recent years.
The Jillaroos representative is hopeful the NRLW will become professional before she retires.
“I would like to think it’s not too far off,” she said.
“I know the leaders in the game like Ali Brigginshaw are really being quite vocal about it.
“We see it in other codes, like the women’s rugby sevens, they’re training full time and the quality of their game’s just gone to new heights.”