Little Evah’s running circles around the NRL competition
Despite its challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unexpected silver lining for one budding young rugby league player.
Evah Hicks celebrated her fourth birthday a week before the junior season kicked off in July, meeting the minimum age for the "5 Years" competition just in time.
And while she may be the youngest player at South Eastern Seagulls, she is already as elusive as NRL star Kalyn Ponga.
Last Saturday Evah had spectators in stitches as she took a hit up, sprinted over the try line, jumped the fence and ran back down the sideline.
Evah's mother and team manager Rhiannon Hicks said the play was typical of her cheeky daughter.
"She was a bit tired and grumpy, we told her to do just one more run," Ms Hicks said.
"Our trainer gave her the ball and she just kept on running. It was hysterical, they're all so funny at this age."
Evah is one of the few kids who benefited from this year's coronavirus-related delay to community sport.
"Had the season started when it was meant to back in May, she wouldn't have been old enough," Ms Hicks said.
"Without taking away from the seriousness of COVID, we were lucky in a way that she could play."
Since 2015, the number of girls and women playing rugby league has increased by 147 percent.
The NRL also recorded a 98 percent rise in female coaches and a 59 percent increase in female coaches.
Tonight, the NRL kicks off it's 14th Harvey Norman Women In League round, celebrating the contribution that women make to the game - both on and off the field.
Ms Hicks said she is excited by the increasing opportunities young girls now get to play footy.
"We've got lots of talent down here at South Easts, and I love knowing that she can get onto the field, she can get out there in a team environment at such a young age," Ms Hicks said.
"It's super important that women play any sport."
Originally published as Little Evah's running circles around the NRL competition