Taleah's in a league of her own
FAST, fearless and flat out brilliant on the field, Taleah Smith is probably the only boys' team player in the Gympie Junior Rugby League who would take "pretty" as a compliment.
She may also be the first girl to play on the boys' representative team in the Wide Bay competition.
Proud dad, Gerome, says he would like to think she got her footy talent from him, but he says it is more probable she inherited her speed from Mum, a state level runner.
A family background in sport and fitness has produced something of an athletic prodigy in Taleah, who found her footballing feet via last year's Broncos Challenge, in which her school, St Patrick's Primary School was victorious.
"My friend Nikita said I should go and I said okay," Taleah said.
"They said if I wanted to have a go I could and so I just gave it a go."
Taleah, 11, was preparing for training at Albert Park yesterday, but took time out for her interview with The Gympie Times.
"I didn't go to the trials last year, but the zone selectors for the girls' team saw me play and said I should come down and train.
"So it all started with the Broncos Challenge," she said.
Taleah Smith has combined a mind for rugby league tactics with a turn of speed many rabbits might envy.
Add to that an ability to instantly take a chance and break through the opposition and you have a new phenomenon on the field.
"I like the tackling," she adds, when asked about what drew her to the game.
So the rough and tumble of the big contact game is no problem for her.
"Speed and skill are probably more important than size and power at her age," dad Gerome says.
And those qualities are certainly part of the kit of talents she brings to the game.
"She took a line break last week," Gerome says proudly. "She ran half the field and got past four blokes trying to tackle her. Then she scored in the corner.
"I suppose it does combine constant jogging with the sprinting she was always good at."