Kaitlyn Phillips determined to make 2020 'my year' after capping 2019 with PM XIII's victory

LEADING THE WAY: Prime Minister's XIII skipper Karina Brown and Orange's Kaitlyn Phillips after their win in Fiji. Phillips says Brown's leadership was invaluable throughout the week on tour. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

LEADING THE WAY: Prime Minister's XIII skipper Karina Brown and Orange's Kaitlyn Phillips after their win in Fiji. Phillips says Brown's leadership was invaluable throughout the week on tour. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Kaitlyn Phillips has enjoyed a break-out year, by anyone's measure, and capping it with an appearance in the Prime Minister's XIII completed what's been a dream 2019.

But she's determined to make 2020 even bigger. Or, as she puts it, make it "my year".

Phillips is one of a number of players Jillaroos coach Brad Donald is dubbing the next generation of women's rugby league stars.

And the Orange star further enhanced that reputation with a stand-out showing in her first game in green and gold in Fiji this month.

Phillips started in the backrow for Donald in the PM's XIII and played three-quarters of the match as the Australian girls fought back to claim a 22-14 victory against the hosts in Suva.

Phillips, now back in Orange playing in the growing Western Women's Rugby League competition with Vipers, says the Fiji experience - the team flew over in RAAF planes - was one of the best she's had in her life.

But it's the football experience gained she hopes to really draw on in the next 12 months.

"You learn heaps ... in terms of development it's massive," Phillips said.

"You learn so much about what it's like to be at that level and the values they look for from players at that level.

"A lot of the girls in the team were like me, a few development players, the next generation sort of thing.

"We were very lucky to have Karina Brown as skipper though, she's won a World Cup and played for the Jillaroos for many years, and that was pretty awesome to be captained by her. She's got lots of knowledge and experience. She took us all under her wing."

Phillips played her first game for Vipers on Saturday, the Orange girls running out 50-4 winners over Castlereagh at Baradine.

The WWRL season will wrap up Phillips' on-field commitments in 2019 after the young-gun helped Mounties to the NSWRL women's grand final too. She was just this week named Mounties' Rising Star as well.

Phillips says she'll play the 2020 season with the Mulgas but has set her sights on making the next step soon after.

"The main goal is to make a NRL team, that's the big one," she said, adding the encouragement Donald, a former Orange CYMS coach, gave all the PM's XIII girls will fire her throughout off-season training.

"He let us know we were there for a reason and we're ultimately the next generation of players. If teams are looking for players then our names are the ones they're looking at but we have to do the work.

"I'm going to put my head down in the off-season. I want to make next year my year."

This story Jillaroo Phillips is determined to make the next step first appeared on Central Western Daily.