Jets strappers prove welcome addition to team
A RUGBY league dressing room or gym is a daunting place to enter for outsiders.
Doubly so if you are a woman.
But Jess Crear and Jordan Schouten have braved their way into the Ipswich Jets inner sanctum and found a welcoming, supportive environment.
The pair has the job of strapping the Jets players before training sessions and games.
They are tutored at university by Jets strength and conditioning coach Justin Holland, who helped open the door for them at the Jets.
Crear has a brother who played league for Swifts in Ipswich and another who played for the Jets colts, so she is continuing the family connection.
"I've always been involved in Ipswich rugby league. It's been really good. All the boys have been very accepting of us," she said.
So accepting in fact that Crear admits she and Schouten have both had to refuse requests for their phone numbers.
But that has been no problem for a woman who grew up with rugby league playing brothers.
"You've got to learn how to be professional but know which lines not to cross," Crear said.
Both women are using the experience to boost their practical education in the field they are studying - exercise sports science.
It is a big step for a young woman into a traditionally male-exclusive environment.
"To go straight from basic strapping to a semi-professional environment is pretty exciting," Crear said.
"It's good practice in this sort of field. I grew up loving sports and being a huge Broncos supporter, so I enjoy the team environment."
The Jets have shown there is no discrimination in their ranks, supporting the campaign against domestic violence and leading the way in Indigenous health.
But it doesn't mean Shouten and Crear didn't feel any nerves when they started.
"The hardest part is probably proving yourself as a girl in a men's environment," Crear said.
"But with brothers you learn not too take yourself too seriously."