ACT Brumbies recruit Joanne Butler aims to make her debut this season

Thursday, 8 February 2024, 4:26 pm

Joanne Butler [NBC News]

ACT Brumbies recruit Joanne Butler is hoping to see more Papua New Guinea women enter Australia’s elite SuperW competition following her recent signing.

Butler became the first PNG woman to be recruited by an established club in Australia to play in high level rugby union competition and is determined to make an impression.

“I’m excited and nervous at the same time but I understand the responsibility,” Butler said prior to her departure.

“Being the first Papua New Guinean and home grown rugby player, it’s an honor and I will do my best for my country.

“I hope that my entry to professional rugby will inspire Papua New Guinean’s and Pacific Islanders especially women and girls to get into rugby and if not rugby, just go out and achieve your dreams.”

The East New Britain lass from Korere village is currently in camp with the Brumbies outfit, preparing for the 2024 SuperW season.

Butler had her first hit out with the club over the weekend in a trial match which saw the Brumbies defeat China Hong Kong Rugby Women 33-19 at the Viking Park in Canberra.

The 23-year-old joined the Canberra-based club as a replacement for Samoa’s representative Fa’alua Tugaga, who picked up an injury.

Butler’s selection is a testament of her effort and hard work supported by PNG Rugby’s commitment to growing the women’s code in the country through the assistance of Oceania Rugby, Rugby Australia and the Pacific Aus Sports Program.

She said her short-term goal is to enter the elite squad and make her debut this season. Apart from her esteemed aim of making a crack in the women’s top-flight competition, Butler hopes to build her character in the game and enhance her performance as player to bring back the experience to PNG and help grow the union.

“I want to learn as much as I can,” she said.

“I want to improve as an individual and as a rugby player. And to bring back all of that experience back to PNG and share it with the provincial unions and PNGRU to mentor up and coming talents.”

As the Brumbies head into intense training in the final stage of preseason, Butler would need to work extra hard and put in committed effort to impress coach Scott Fava for a possible maiden game when the season kicks off against NSW Waratahs on March 16.