By Bill Poulos

Proud Pallamallawa NRLW star Rhiannon Byers headlines an all-star cast arriving in Moree on Wednesday to launch the Project Pathfinder rugby league skills session at Boughton Oval.

Byers, a former Australian Rugby 7s international now with Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in the NRL women’s competition, will launch the Pathfinder initiative alongside Sharks team-mate and NRL development officer Quincy Dodd, and star South Sydney Rabbitohs Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker.

Byers (pictured) is Moree born-and-bred. She grew up in Pallamallawa and moved to Sydney after completing her HSC at Warialda High School nearly seven years ago.

In 2019, Byers played in the Australian Rugby 7s team, winning gold in the Oceania 7s in Dubai. She also collected a silver medal at the World Series titles in 2020 before switching to rugby league in 2023.

Byers said the Project Pathfinder program, an NRL initiative, was the perfect springboard for aspiring rugby league players from rural and regional Australia.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to strive to achieve their dreams and goals, and (Project Pathfinder) shows them, just because they’re from the country, doesn’t mean their dreams and goals can’t be reached,” Byers said.

Her advice to all kids in the bush with a football in their hands and stars in their eyes is to “keep going” and never give up.

“I know that’s easier said than done but only you can prove everyone wrong, so keep going. The setbacks may feel major now, but they’re blessings in disguise. The harder you work adds fuel to the fire in your belly, and you will go out and show everyone the setbacks made you stronger, faster and fitter,” she said.

Byers, a hard-running forward, said her career was “shaping up well” after her debut season last year was curtailed by a wrist injury in round one against Canberra Raiders.

“I snapped my scaphoid palming a player and had surgery four days after the game,” she said.

Byers played for another 26 minutes and made 26 tackles.

“I’ve signed until 2025 and it’s awesome to see the sport growing. It’s exciting times (with) new challenges, and I can’t wait to tackle it front on,” she said.

Byers, 24, is a proud Wiradjuri woman and a country girl at heart.

“I was born in Moree but I grew up in Pallamallawa. I give back to both, but I love being called a ‘Pally girl’,” she smiled.

Project Pathfinder, a youth engagement program, gets underway at Boughton Oval on Wednesday, April 3, starting at 10.45am.

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys will be in Moree for the project’s launch as well as South Sydney stars Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker.

Everyone is invited to come along and meet the NRL and NRLW players, participate in rugby league skills training and enjoy a barbecue lunch and refreshments.

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