Injured Wallaroo rallying bushfire relief for home town

Super W
by Emma Greenwood

An injured Millie Boyle says watching from the sidelines is killing her - but there was one issue on which she wasn't willing to stay on the bench.

Boyle will miss the Super W season with a bulging disc in her neck - an injury it is hoped can be managed with rest and rehabilitation rather than a more invasive option such as surgery.

But when it came to her fire-ravaged home town of Cobargo on the NSW south coast, the Wallaroos forward knew she needed to be on the front lines.

Boyle was in the US when she learnt the ferocious fire front was headed towards the family farm and faced a torturous few hours waiting to hear from family due to the loss of communications in the area.

"I saw it the social media around it all and I was like, oh my God, and because all the (mobile reception) towers were burnt down, there was no phone service or anything," she said.

Boyle's father, former Canberra Raiders player David, and sisters were on the farm but she was able to speak to her mother, and eventually her father, to ensure her family was safe and sound.

"Everything on the farm was burnt but they saved the house which was the main thing," she said.

 

"But a lot of our neighbours lost their houses. My dad and my sisters stayed as long as they could and managed to save the house.

"We're cattle (a cattle farm), we lost a couple and a couple of horses but not too much."

"Not too much" in relation to friends and neighbours - those Boyle grew up around and many of whom lost houses and livestock and are struggling.

"There were lives lost which is just unfathomable but for people that have lost their homes and all their belongings, it's more the sentimental things (that matter)," she said.

"Because it came through so quick they didn't really have a chance to get things out and it's holiday time, so everyone was away and it was New Year's Eve, so I think everyone's in shock. But everyone's already rebuilding and there's been so much great support … and it's really nice to see everyone helping out the community."

Dixie Chicks take on Cobargo Pub

A post shared by Millie Boyle (@millie_boyle) on

 

Boyle said much of that support had been practical - people arriving without notice to help repair fences so cattle weren't lost and others carrying out the grim task of burying animals lost to the fires.

And then there was Boyle and sister-in-law Isabella Kerr, who launched a GoFundMe campaign that raised almost $10,000 for residents of the region.

Given the immediate requirements of residents, Boyle and Kerr - the partner of her brother, NRL player Morgan - have already closed their GoFundMe drive to ensure money raised could be quickly distributed to those most in need.

"So many people feel hopeless when they're not there so that's why I wanted to go home and do what I could to help down here and there were a lot of people doing fundraising and donating money," Boyle said.

"And Bella, my sister-in-law and I, we'd known some people that had lost their places, so we just wanted to help give them immediate relief to get on their feet.

"It's not that much money but it just helps give them a little start to buy the essentials because they've lost everything."

While Boyle now lives on the Gold Coast and represents the Reds and Brisbane Broncos in the NRLW competition, she still has a deep connection to the Cobargo and far south coast community that is not only home but stepped up in 2010 to support her family after her father suffered a farming accident that almost claimed his life.

"We've grown up there our whole lives. You know everyone from when you start school to when you leave and then come back," she said.

"It's a very special community and everyone gets around everyone very well and it's really special to be a part of.

"Whether they're family friends, family or (community), everyone knows everyone and it's very tightknit."

Boyle - who has had two nerve blocking injections to combat the pain of the bulging disc in her neck and pins and needles she gets down her arm - will return to Queensland this week to rehabilitate her neck injury and is unsure when she will return to the field.

"I want to make sure that I do all my rehab and everything right before I rush into anything but it is killing me watching from the sidelines," she said.

"They're hoping with the rest it'll just heal itself but it's something I'll just have to monitor and check and get scans regularly to see if it's (helping)."

Boyle faced a heavy schedule playing both codes of rugby last year but is philosophical about her injury.

"Workload's one thing but we've only got short seasons and it's kind of like only playing one full season almost," she said.

"I came back from a shoulder injury on my left shoulder (in the 2018 season), so I think it's probably more of an over-compensation thing because this is on my right side.

"I'm glad I made it through the year but I know that injuries happen in any sport regardless of what you're playing.

"I loved having the opportunity to play both sports last year and until they become more professional for longer (I won't have to pick between them)."