Touch is in Jess McCall's DNA.
Her mum and dad have played the sport for over 40 years,
As a young girl, she watched her whole family play touch together, until she could finally join in.
So, there was never any chance Jess wouldn’t take up the sport herself.
“I played hockey and touch and at 15/16 mum said I need to make a choice because she couldn’t keep up with the two demanding sports,” said Jess.
“I choose touch because of the friendships I had and the lifestyle it allowed me to have.”
The sport has been good to the 29-year-old.
Representing Australia in the 2018 Trans-Tasman opens in New Zealand.
She captained the 2019 World Cup team in Malaysia and took home gold.
A reward for all the sacrifice and hard work.
“We were so dominate in the World Cup. We beat New Zealand 10-2 in the final,” smiled Jess.
“It’s kind of like a state of Origin mentality, we don’t like them, they don’t like us.
“It’s such a good rivalry and I look forward to playing them every year.”
Another achievement, selection for the second year in the Newcastle Knights women’s touch side to play in the NRL Touch Premiership.
With a majority of her team mates under 20, Jess feels she’s a bit of an old head.
“I’m just so happy to play with those girls because they’re stars of the future,” she said.
Living in Wollongong, Jess travels to train, but loves wearing the red and blue and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve been playing with those Newcastle, Central Coast girls for about six years now,” she said.
“Such an obvious choice to go and play for the country region. It’s a team that I support in the NRL so it was perfect.”
And not only has the sport given her some of the best years of her life, but also helped her find love.
Her fiancé, Simon Lang also an Australian touch player.
“We were playing touch and friends before we got together,” Jess added.
“Got engaged about a month ago.
“I credit our relationship to touch because if I wasn’t playing, and he wasn’t playing, we wouldn’t have met.”
But at home it’s dead-set rivalry. He plays for the Parramatta Eels.
Unlucky for Jess, the Knights side went down by one in their season opener against the Eels… but the men’s side came through with the win.
“There was rivalry but I’m happy that he also lost,” she laughed.
“Definitely going for him but as a club going for Newcastle.”
This week Knights touch sides will travel north to Townsville to take on the Cowboys in their second match for the season.
The games are played at 1300SMILES Stadium Saturday, 8th June from 5.10pm.