What were the winning ingredients that took the NRLW Gold Coast Titans to the 2023 grand final competition?
Griffith University students, Erin Percy and Maise Rodrigues, might have a few ideas.
The final year dietetics students recently wrapped placements with the Titans, under a partnership between Griffith and the NRL club to help boost nutrition provision.
Titans captain Georgia Hale said both students have added immense value to the team.
“We’ve had an extensive preseason this year with an extended season, so our schedule has really amped up and the element of recovery and nutrition to coincide with that is massive,” she said.
“The girls have come in and offered so much learning, so much support and we’re making sure that we’re being fueled right so that we can perform right.”
The Titans partnered with nutrition-dense ready-made meal company ‘Lite ‘n Easy’, which the girls were responsible for sourcing in accordance with individual player needs.
“We’ve been doing the girls’ individual meal plans, which involved private consults, understanding what they usually eat on a normal day and then implementing beneficial changes into their diet,” Miss Rodrigues said.
“We’ve also been doing game day nutrition, directed by coach Murph (Karyn Murphy).
“[Murph] was interested in us teaching the girls what to eat on game day, what time to eat, if they’re getting on a flight – when should they have a meal?”
“Every game day we would send out a resource we’d developed that advises them what they should eat and at what time,” Miss Percy added.
“We also advise the girls on what they should be eating the night before a game, such as a meal high in carbohydrates and a dessert the night before.
“This might include spaghetti bolognese topped with cheese and served with garlic bread and a bowl of ice cream for dessert, or butter chicken then nann bread and custard with banana.”
Both students relocated from different parts of the world, Miss Percy from Tasmania and Miss Rodrigues from Brazil, but share in the same passion for sports nutrition.
“Working with athletes, I found they want to make changes to help themselves, they’re interested, and they want to listen to what you have to say.”
Erin Percy, a national-level netball player, said both she and Maise have got to know the players and their dietary preferences well enough to manage players’ requirements alone.
“The girls get frozen or fresh meals delivered here at training, because a lot of them are travelling an hour or two just to be here,” Miss Percy said.
“Some of the players work during the day and then train from 4pm-8pm, not eating until they get home, so one of the things we’ve implemented is ensuring the meals are hot and ready so they can eat straight after training.
Miss Percy said there is a real comradery between the team and supporting staff, having been “welcomed with open arms” into a “really positive environment.”
“Both the players and coaching team have recognised real differences from the nutrition support, and how it’s affecting their training and playing as well,” she said.
It’s been really rewarding to receive that feedback and know it’s helping.”
Head of Performance Nutrition at the NRL Titans, Griffith’s Professor Ben Desbrow, said the exchange provided a win-win scenario whereby students would gain professional experience and the team would reap educational and tangible health benefits.
“Female athletes deserve professional service,” he said.
“And this approach gave our students some great experience too.
“Both Erin and Maise showed an interest and keenness to go down that sports pathway, they were so enthusiastic, and that was the reason for saying well let’s give them exposure during their degree.
“They’ve just embraced it and the Titans players have embraced them as well, which is what I often find with environments I’ve worked in, the athletes being extraordinarily receptive to any support you can offer.”