At just 13, Ashleigh Quinlan got in touch with her inner self.
Which may be a horrible pun, but it’s as good a way as any of describing what the 18 year old has done with her young life.
Quinlan had gone to The Hills Sports High as a netballer, then made a chance discovery.
‘‘A friend of my dad’s daughter played and asked me if I wanted to play,’’ she said of her introduction to touch football.
‘‘So I went down and had a go.’’
Quinland went so well she was soon playing in representative and state teams.
The netball went long ago.
‘‘I’m too short,’’ she said, but there’s been no order too tall in touch.
It’s been the NSW Mets Open, Aussie Women’s Open, Vawdon Cup, State Cup with her Easts Roosters club team, and she’s just returned from the Trans Tasman series.,
She was a member of the Australian women’s open team that beat the Kiwis in the annual series in New Zealand.
And therein lies the rub and a controversy to rival the NRL’s James Tamou’s defection from New Zealand to declare his Test loyalty to Australia.
Quinlan is a New Zealander born and bred, growing up in Lake Taupo and coming here with her family at 11.
‘‘I decided to play for Australia because here is where I first played,’’ she said, adding she was reminded of her background when she first played in the Trans Tasman series last year.
‘‘Some joked around and gave me a bit of flak on and off the field.
‘‘This year they said they’d shut me down and shut me out of the game.’’
It didn’t work, as Australia swept the series 3-0.
There’s a bit of pedigree there to explain why they can’t touch Quinlan.
Father Killeon was a New Zealand under-19 league representative.
Mother Miriama was a multi-sportsperson, playing softball, netball and soccer.
Her daughter aims to claim that multi-sportsperson status too.
‘‘I was asked to play in the rugby sevens Australian championships in 2010 but couldn’t go,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s an ambition to play in the 2016 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.’’
There are other ambitions: the 2015 touch football World Cup that Australia will host, and the 2019 cup in Los Angeles.
Quinlan is already ahead of the game: winning most of the team and individual awards available but there is one she cherishes.
Kristy Judd is the most revered name in women’s touch football.
Last year Australian coach Peter Bell gave Quinlan the Kristy Judd award.
Australia’s most capped player, Judd is still playing at 35.
Quinlan still has 17 years up her guernsey sleeve.
Maybe one day there’ll be an Ashleigh Quinlan award.