THERE'S virtually nothing Kezie Apps hasn't achieved in rugby league but Helensburgh's first season in the NSW Women's Premiership is still proving a learning curve.
She has a swag of Jillaroos and NSW jerseys in the wardrobe, but 2021 is the incumbent Blues skipper's first foray into the elite competition, having played her entire club career with the Burgh in the Illawarra League.
It's made the week-to-week intensity of the state's premier comp something of an adjustment - for her as much as her less experienced teammates.
"It's a pretty long season compared to what we're used to," Apps said.
"These are tough games every week and having to recover and back up each week for another tough game is new for a lot of the girls. I'm really excited, for my game personally, to have that as well.
"I've never really had that leading into NRLW, Origin or Jillaroos or anything like that. I feel it's going to benefit my footy. I can get used to getting bashed up every week so it's a bit easier when I do go into that next level as well."
They passed a major test in that regard with a gritty 10-6 win over the Rabbitohs on a cold Monday night at Homebush last-start, their second win on the bounce after defeating Wests Tigers 30-20 in round four.
The two victories couldn't have played out any differently, but Apps feels her side will take plenty out of the latter after trailing 6-0 at halftime.
"We made it so hard for ourselves but to defend the way we did and come away with the win was so impressive and it was a really good feeling," Apps said.
"It's something as a team that we probably haven't had at that level, playing those grinding games out. We'd have a tough game against Corrimal every couple of weeks [in the Illawarra League] but we didn't have those grinding back and forth games where you see which team cracks first.
"It's a Monday night, it was cold, we weren't sure how it was going to go but we just believed in our coaching staff and what our game plan was and not getting bored with it because it was working.
"I fluffed a lot of things but it was a hundred per cent our defence that kept us in that game, the girls just turning up for each other and not giving up. It's definitely good for us and those girls coming into that next-level competition to get a taste of that and also experience the win and how it feels after battling it out that long."
It leaves Ryan Powell's side hovering on the edge of the top four heading into Saturday's clash with unbeaten Cronulla at Rex Jackson Oval, they're first outing on their home patch this season.
The Sharks boast a few of Apps' Jillaroos teammates and former Tigers Corban McGregor and Maddie Studdon in the halves and present a tough test in what is a local derby.
The Tigers got a lesson in how big a leap moving into the competition is in a round-three 46-10 loss to similarly unbeaten Mounties, but Apps feels the Burgh are more than capable of knocking off the top sides.
"There's really positive signs for us as a team and as a playing group," Apps said.
"We had a bye and wash-out so [Mounties] was a tough team to meet first up. It was disappointing but we've regrouped from that and we're still a building team, building those combinations and working each other out.
"We're making it hard for ourselves making all these little mistakes. Once we get those things fixed up and everyone's on the same page and everyone understands our game plan and how important it is to hold the ball, I really do believe we'll be up in that top four this season and that's matching it with the high-level, high-quality teams."
With no Tigers first grade in action this year, the women's game will take pride of place in the 3pm time-slot, something the six-time Illawarra premiers have certainly earned.
"To play us at 3pm main game and make us the main game is really cool," Apps said.
"There's a fair bit of buzz around the club with us entering the Harvey Norman competition so it's a good chance to sit on the oval and watch some really good footy on Saturday."