Western sports scientist preps Parramatta Eels for NRL grand final in ‘Parradise’
For Tahleya Eggers, a Western Sydney University PhD candidate and Parramatta Eels sports scientist, this weekend’s NRL grand final showdown is the pinnacle of her successful academic and professional career in high performance sport science.
Graduating from Western with a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Sport and Exercise Science in 2015, Tahleya went on to complete her Master of Research in Sports Science in 2017.
As a stand-out applicant, Tahleya was awarded an industry-based PhD scholarship jointly funded by the University’s School of Health Sciences and the Parramatta Eels National Rugby League Club working within the Athletic Performance Department for the NRL and NRLW teams.
“My academic supervisors initially encouraged me to apply for the role as a way to improve my interview skills, being in the final stages of my Master’s degree, I was told it would be ‘good practice’ for applying for jobs in the near future,” Tahleya said.
“I interviewed with the NRL Head of Performance at the time, and I was the only female candidate, but by the end of the day they had called to say they were impressed with the way I had interviewed, and I was their preferred choice.”
Starting with the Parramatta Eels in 2018, Tahleya began her career as an NRL Sport Scientist responsible for athlete workload monitoring during training and matches, regularly conducting physical testing protocols with the players, and travelling with the team to all matches.
At the end of her three-year scholarship, Tahleya was offered a contract to continue working with the Parramatta Eels as an NRL Sports Scientist, and upon the formation of the NRLW women’s team in 2021, Tahleya now also leads the Parramatta Eels women’s side as NRLW Head of Performance.
Dedicated to her athletes, Tahleya works long hours supporting both the men and women’s teams in developing their performance and success on and off the field. She has played a key role in making Eels club history with both the NRL and NRLW teams earning their place in the 2022 NRL grand final.
“This has been one of the most successful and rewarding seasons; making the grand final for the NRL and NRLW in the same year is something very special,” Tahleya said.
“When I started with the NRL team in 2018, we got the wooden spoon – we came last on the ladder – which makes this weekend particularly meaningful for me, having been a part of the same club while we’ve continually built our performance to achieve this success.”
“I’m in an incredibly unique position being the only staff member to be embedded in both the NRL and NRLW performance departments, and I feel truly grateful to just get to experience this event,” she said.
A typical day in ‘Parra-dise’ for Tahleya begins at 6am, where she spends half her day with the NRL before leading the performance department with the NRLW until 9pm at night.
Collecting GPS data to measure players distances and speeds, monitoring the players daily wellness and individual response to training means Tahleya can provide performance and coaching staff feedback throughout a session to ensure players are reaching the intended training targets.
Acute and long-term reporting and monitoring of this data is then used to inform subsequent training and recovery plans to ensure the athletes have the physical capability to meet all the demands of the game.
With the establishment of the inaugural NRLW women’s teams, Tahleya says professional opportunities, exposure and interest in women’s rugby league has grown significantly in the past few years, however it is only the beginning.
“I have been passionate about sport, and it has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
“Despite being told that it was unlikely that I would ever work in professional sport due to the competitive nature of these positions, and that it would always be harder for me to find a position as a woman within male-dominated sporting environments, I’m here and making an impact,” she said.
Tahleya proudly represents women in league, trailblazing the way to help athletes to reach their full potential and perform at their best to achieve physical feats week after week.
“When the team won their first game by scoring the first ever NRLW field goal in history, it was a really rewarding moment to see the players resilience after extreme adversity pay off.
“I believe that most of these players haven’t even reached their full potential yet, which is very exciting. Being part of a team working towards not only winning a premiership, but also creating a platform for the future of rugby league and all women’s sports is incredibly rewarding,” she said.
30 September 2022
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