44-year-old mum Kylie Hilder is still playing State of Origin, because ‘age is just a number’

State of Origin didn’t exist when Kylie Hilder was born in 1976.

At 44 years old, the mother of two from Forster is the oldest woman in rugby league history to run onto the field in the Blues jersey.

She likens herself to a good red wine that gets better with age.

“I’m actually injury-free at the moment,” Hilder says.

“I got through this season and am feeling really good.”

So what’s her secret?

She’s played in the hooker role seven years longer than Melbourne Storm stalwart Cameron Smith, and looks at his career as motivation.

“I love Cameron Smith and the game of rugby league — what he’s done and at his age (37), the fact that he turns up week in and week out, you know you’re going to get the same consistent Smith.

“So he has been an inspiration, but as a hooker, Jake Friend from the Roosters is my favourite,” she says.

Hilder looks to the career of 37-year-old Melbourne Storm Captain Cameron Smith as motivation.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

‘Age is just a number’

While representing her state at the highest level at 44 is an incredible feat, Hilder wants people to stop viewing age as a barrier.

“It shouldn’t matter how old you are. If you’re up for it, get out there and give it a crack. Life is pretty short, so just enjoy it.”

In saying that, Hilder does admit she picks up more injuries than her younger teammates.

“But I make sure I do all the right things behind the scenes to keep the body good,” she says.

Hilder believes her active lifestyle contributes to her on-field success.

Away from footy, she’s a mum to two teenage boys.

“We live in Forster so the family goes wakeboarding and on the boat, we’re really active and physical,” she says.

A woman, man and two teenage boys pose for a photo.
Hilder is a mum to two teenage boys who also play rugby league.(Supplied: Kylie Hilder)

“I have two sons, they’re 16 and 12, so they’re just starting to get into their rugby league careers as well.

“My 16-year-old is in his second year of representative footy now.”

And he’s learning from the best.

“Getting into the serious representative football, we go to the gym and do sessions together. I try to pass on my knowledge to him as well, and he actually listens to me, so it’s even better.”

A last hurrah

Hilder has checked off so much in her decorated career.

She led the Blues to victory in 2019, represented Australia with the Jillaroos, and has won multiple premiership trophies and four Touch World Cups.

But after this year’s Origin, Hilder has decided she’ll hang up the boots.

“This is it — I was assistant coach and was brought into the squad, but it’s great to be back in training with the girls, I am really enjoying it.”


She’s confident the Blues can take out their third straight title.

“The team is feeling really confident going into the game. These nine debutants, you wouldn’t think they were new, we’ve really bonded as a team which is a massive thing. If you’ve bonded off the field it really carries onto the field.”

Hilder has been involved in the game for a long time. Currently she’s a women’s participation officer for league, and has been an assistant coach to the NSW women’s side and the NRL Nines. She’s also dabbled in some commentary.

She’s been blown away by the growth of the women’s game in recent years, and believes this is just the start.

“Absolutely, the women’s competition should expand.

“Obviously this year was a bit hard because of COVID, but the talent that’s coming through is unbelievable, we need to look at expanding in length and introducing more teams.”

Hilder has been a pillar of strength in camp for Isabelle Kelly and Kezie Apps, who were both under an injury cloud but have now been cleared to play.

“Kylie brings experience and so much knowledge around the game to this group, she’s my best friend,” Kelly says.

Kezie Apps says the Blues are lucky to have Kylie in their ranks.

Kezie Apps runs away from the Queensland defence in the women's State of Origin match.
Apps will captain the New South Wales team for the Women’s State of Origin match against Queensland.(AAP: Craig Golding)

“Her knowledge and the way she reads the game — to help other young hookers coming in has been a huge bonus for us passing on that knowledge to Quincy (Dodd) and Keely (Davis), just her calmness on the field and bringing the forwards onto the ball.”

Hilder is humble in her role as the self-proclaimed ‘mother figure’ in camp, and is happy she can pass on her knowledge and experience to the group.

“I feel like a mum 80 per cent of the time, but they don’t treat me like that,” she says.

“Its so good being back around the girls. It’s such a drawn-out campaign this year, but we’ve got nine debutants here, so just being around to help them is great.”

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44-year-old named in Blues side for women’s State for Origin

Instead, she was named in the 20-player squad. Hilder was as shocked as anyone when she received the call from Blues coach Andy Patmore.

“I had some missed calls after the NRLW grand final and Andy had just put it to me and said he’d like me to come away as that 20th player and what did I think,” she said. “I would never say no because I love the game so much but it was a little bit left field.

Kylie Hilder has been named as the 20th player in the NSW Origin Squad. Credit:NRL Photos

“I rang hubby as soon as Andy called me to let me know that my role in the team had changed, he was pretty excited. He was of the same mindset, that I’d been given an opportunity.”

Hilder played last year’s State of Origin but missed out in 2018 due to injury. During last year’s camp, she was lovingly nicknamed “Nonna” by her teammates and announced her retirement from representative league after the game.

The retirement didn’t last long, with the former Jillaroo now jumping on a flight to Queensland on Friday with the rest of the squad.


With the team going into two weeks of isolation, Patmore is unable to bring anyone else into the camp and will utilise Hilder if a number of players go down with injury.

Star duo Kezie Apps and Isabelle Kelly are both coming back from injury and are not certain to play, with Hilder on the roster as “a back up”.

“To get the call and still be asked to be named in the 20 is pretty amazing at my age, but I’m still feeling fit and healthy,” she said. “I’m a big believer of you always take every opportunity that comes to you and everything happens for a reason.”

Hilder will be also helping the team in an assistant coaching role but will be “training” alongside her teammates with the mindset of going to the Sunshine Coast to play.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “If things go wrong up there I will be training and ready to go.”

Hilder will now be training alongside the players she was coaching during the NRLW season with 12 Roosters named in the Blues squad, with the hooker particularly excited for the chance to play alongside Roosters skipper Corban McGregor.

“I’ve become really close with a lot of these girls over the last six weeks,” she said about her coaching role at the Roosters. “I’m really happy for Corbs, she really performed this year in the NRLW.”

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Manitoba RCMP asking for public’s help locating missing 44-year-old man – Winnipeg

Manitoba RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in finding a man who went missing on Saturday night.

Douglas Dew, 44, was last seen at 7 p.m. walking near Provincial Road 236 and Road 83 North in Balmoral Manitoba.

The location where RCMP say 44-year-old Douglas Dew was last seen walking on Saturday night.

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Balmoral, MB is located 50 km North of Winnipeg in the R.M. of Rockwood.

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Police and Douglas’ family are concerned for his well-being.

Anyone with any information on the man’s whereabouts is asked to call the Stonewall RCMP at 204-467-5591.

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