Dean Widders often talks about the impact the late, great Artie Beetson had on him after driving 480km to Armidale in an effort to recruit him to the Roosters.
Of course, the now 42-year-old coach of Parramatta’s NRLW team could not refuse the offer.
He went on to have an excellent NRL career, playing a total of 159 first-grade games for the Bondi club, Eels and South Sydney.
It is this kind of effort and recognition for talent which is driving him in his current mentor roles.
Widders will also coach the First Nations Gems alongside Jess Skinner at the women’s national rugby league championships at Pizzey Park, Burleigh, from June 9.
And he cannot wait to mentor some exciting young talent.
“There’s a lot of potential. There are a lot of girls from remote and rural areas, such as the Torres Strait Islands, country New South Wales and country Queensland,” he told BettingSite.com.au.
“The girls are coming into a different pool of talent compared to what they’re used to. There are some real athletes here.
“Keep an eye out for Essay Banu and Brooke Saddler – she’s a really good player coming through in the Tweed area.
“This is what I love. I’m keeping busy and enjoying it.”
Soon after the four-day tournament, Widders will turn his attention to the Eels’ NRLW pre-season.
Bolstered by the addition of former Carlton AFLW star Brooke Walker, the Parramatta outfit is confident it can improve on last season’s 2-3 record.
The new season will begin in August and it will be the second competition for 2022, with the COVID pandemic pushing back the original 2021 schedule.
The Roosters are the reigning premiers.
“We’re getting everything prepared for them for when they come back,” Widders said.
“A lot of girls have the Origin coming up, and grand finals and semi-finals in their state comps.
“So we’re leaving them alone at the moment. We’re still staying in touch with them, but we’ll start preparing in a few weeks.
“There’s a lot of improvement there. We’ve got some real athletes coming in. I’m excited about Brooke Walker coming over from the AFLW.
“I think she’s going to be good. And there are a couple of young players in Sydney who we’re excited about.”