Kuk happy with choice


AMELIA Kuk is undoubtedly Papua New Guinea’s highest profile female rugby league player and is committed to the sport after dabbling in rugby union initially.
The 24-year-old says she is proud to be at the forefront of the women’s rugby league revolution in PNG even though she plays in the local Brisbane competition for Souths Logan.
The Orchids fullback said she was aware of the challenges women faced in PNG when it came to playing rugby league but was pleased to see the code was changing with the times and quickly accommodating women.
“We come from a country where everyone looks after the males, it goes back to the cultural stuff where if you’re born a female in the family you’re not really worth anything,” she explained.
“I’ve heard stories from some PNG girls, when they were playing in the park people would walk around the field and get laughed at with bottles thrown at them, and this was coming from one of the players of our 2017 World Cup team.
“To see the crowd’s reaction and getting a standing ovation from everyone around in PNG after all the games we played, the exposure’s getting really good and everyone’s starting to respect the women now.”
Growing up in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands, Kuk moved to South Africa where her father worked as a miner before moving around Australia from the arid Western Australian outback to Brisbane, Queensland, where she now calls home.
“I love where I come from, and when I was 17 years old, I made my debut for the PNG women’s sevens team (rugby union).
“I had the opportunity to represent my country I jumped at it because I always wanted to play for PNG,” Kuk explained.
Naturally, Kuk’s cultural identities clashed as she tried to figure out whether to play for Australia or PNG.
“I realised that because I put on the PNG jersey, I couldn’t swap over and make the Australian side, so I had made the Australian side for the Wallaroos and because of rugby rules and regulations, I couldn’t play for another country,” she said.
“I decided to stop playing union because I didn’t see a future in it, and I didn’t want to be stuck playing club footy, so then I decided to make the switch to rugby league in 2016.
“I was lucky enough to play for Souths Logan (Brisbane) which is such a great club and it has produced so many legends in the women’s game, I think I was in the right place at the right time.”
From playing rugby to nursing in a hospital ward, Kuk, who’s now a registered nurse, hopes to find a balance away from scoring tries and tackling opponents on the field. “2017 was when I made my debut for both PNG and Australian rugby league, while trying to do all my practicals, assignments and placements,” she said.
“I got there in the end, I’m glad everything worked out and I was able to fulfil my footy career as well as graduate with my Bachelor’s degree and also getting in a full-time job.”
Kuk now works at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Brisbane and works shifts to accommodate her rigorous training schedule.
– culturalpulse.com

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