Reds star’s inspirational juggling act
Lavinia Gould works 12-hour shifts as a crane driver, is a loving mum to two kids and still finds time for a remarkable footy adventure in two codes.
Just six months after savouring the inaugural NRLW title with the Brisbane Broncos, she is relishing another grand final quest with the Queensland women's rugby side.
Two codes. Two titles. All in a heady six months.
That's the target for the motivated Kiwi flyhalf who will steer a youthful backline of pace and flair in Sunday's Super W decider against champions NSW at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney.
At 36, she represents both the vibrant opportunities that exist today for female footballers of all codes and how much they have grown since her first strides.
"You go through a career of many ups and downs so these highs are everything you dream of and work for," Gould said.
"I've said 'this is my last year' for a few years in a row but if the legs keep running, I'll keep going.
"I still feel I can contribute a lot and I'm enjoying it too much to stop right now."
Gould's daughters Khalarnae, 8, and Kaia, 14, define her far more than her football.
"Who we are outside rugby matters most," Gould said.
You can tell by all she has squeezed into certain days over the past 12 months.
She has worked 12-hour shifts as a crane driver in a steel factory, bounced straight to hospital to be with Kaia for dialysis treatment and still found time for footy training. And some sleep.
"I have my daughters' names, Kaia and 'Buzi', on my wrist strapping and my boots so whenever it seems too hard on the field, I look at that writing," Gould said.
"It always gets me up and going again.
"We had a huge positive turn for Kaia two months ago. She's no longer getting treatment after being on the dialysis machine every other day for 12 months."
Down the track, it may still mean a kidney transplant.
"Her father donated when it was first needed and I'll be the next to put my hand up as any parent would for their child," Gould said.
Gould is inspirational because she calls this life not being a superwoman.
"My hat goes off to all women in sport," she said.
"We all have stuff going on in the background. It just takes a little extra to get to training and games."
The world of Super W, AFLW and NRLW didn't even exist five years ago
"I remember the old rugby days in New Zealand when we'd be shoved to field No.4 or play at 11am before the kids because there weren't enough grounds for women to play on," Gould said.
"Broadcasts, contracts, exposure...it's recognition as sportspeople that is deserved."
She's leading a dynamic Reds backline into Sunday's revenge grand final after the pain of losing last year's decider to NSW in extra time.
Pacy wingers Ivania Wong and Alana Elisaia have both scored six tries this season and centre Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, at just 18, can change a game on her own. Fullback Lori Cramer, centre Cecilia Smith and sparky halfback Cobie-Jane Morgan are also part of a unit that ignite tries over 80m.
Gould is delighted that the Broncos have asked her back for a second season after a try-scoring mark from the interchange bench in the grand final win over the Roosters last September.
"I'd never played any rugby league at all before the Broncos and the change of codes to learn something different was so refreshing," Gould said.
With the victorious Broncos' girls, she was honoured with the keys to the City of Brisbane.
Like her teammates, she joked about what door it actually opened.
"It actually doesn't open any doors...just to have the recognition as women is fantastic and it sits very proudly on the mantelpiece," Gould said with a laugh.
* Super W grand final: Queensland v NSW, 4.30pm Sunday, LIVE on Fox Sports and KAYO