Ashley Marsters is a journeywomen of Victorian rugby having run on to fields across Melbourne since she was a tacker.
Playing from the age of five, Marsters like many girls she had to put rugby to one side once she reached 12 years of age.
Through her early teens she turned her sporting attention to netball and basketball with quite a serious bent, but the draw to rugby never died and when, at 17, she was approached by friends to try some sevens her return was back on track.
Marsters was quickly picked up by Aussie Sevens scouts in its pre-Olympic incarnation and from there she gradually moved on to XVs.
“At that time all the girls were based in their own states – not centralised as it is now – I was the only one in Melbourne and so was training by myself. I had no idea what I was really doing, I was just going with the flow.
“I worked my way through to XVs clubs and started playing state level and then working my way through to Wallaroos.”
Her journey has included moving from club to club always looking to follow new development.
“My first two years in women’s rugby was at Box Hill, and then I moved to Unicorns when they first started a team,” she said.
“I was there for about two years and then Harlequins started their new women’s team, so I went there.
“I’m a bit of a jumper - I’m always down for the underdog,” she admits with a laugh.
National recognition came in 2013, in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup.
Life in rugby though took its toll and Marsters admits over recent years she has pulled away.
“It did get a bit much playing rugby all the time so the last couple of years weren’t too serious for me; I just pulled back a bit and started having some ‘me’ time,” she said.
With the passing of her mother late last year, Marsters was looking for some motivation to get back on track.
“Rugby has developed quite a lot since I first started. I love it and I think this is good motivation for me to get back into it,” she said.
“The amount of exposure that’s been given to the girls, especially for the Super W tournament, has been tremendous; it’s been good for rugby in general, all over Australia.”
With new young faces and prospects for rugby moving forward, Marsters has found that motivation, enjoying the new journey and the opportunity to pass on lessons to young talent coming on board.
Pleased with the interest rugby is now receiving Marsters is excited to see women from all walks of life having a go.
“(There are) women who don’t know what rugby is, but have heard about it and just want to try a new sport.
“Once they have a touch of the ball, they just love it and keep coming back and bring more girls and connections.
“So it’s good to see a lot of diverse women joining the sport.”
Having been involved in rugby through the lean years, Marsters is aware of the responsibility she has as an "old hand".
“It’s good to start passing on my experience and I think it will get massive,” she said.
“We’re looking to grow women’s rugby and turn it into a professional sport eventually.
Marsters is just one of the experienced voices that are applauding the difference this move in the Australian women’s rugby landscape will make.
“It’s definitely made a difference. All my friends got sick of me putting up fundraisers on Facebook.
“Now with Super W subsidising the costs, it has helped a lot.
“It’s taken off a lot of pressure. So to have that one less worry is pretty good for us.
“If it starts to grow later on and then eventually as a professional sport, that’d be awesome.”
As for her Rebels underdogs, Marsters believes they may be being underestimated.
“I think the group of women we have, we’ve come a long way and yes, everyone is going to look at us as the underdogs. But underdogs always come out on top eventually!”