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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Guardian sport

‘I love my muscles’: NRLW star Julia Robinson calls out online body-shamers

Brisbane Broncos star Julia Robinson
Brisbane Broncos star Julia Robinson says ‘no one should be ashamed or self-conscious to have muscles’. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The Brisbane Broncos have strongly condemned trolls who targeted NRLW player Julia Robinson with body-shaming comments after a picture of the three-time premiership winner was posted by the club on their social media platforms.

Robinson called out the trolls on Tuesday after the innocuous photograph, which showed the Queensland and Australia representative player in a singlet at training, attracted derogatory comments about her muscular physique.

Robinson, who is known as one of the game’s fittest players and often posts training videos on her Instagram account, shone a light on the abuse by sharing the comments herself.

“I never usually read social media comments, or let them affect me,” she wrote. “However I just wanted to say that no one should be ashamed or self-conscious to have muscles. It shows dedication and hard work. I love my muscles.”

Fellow players rallied around her, with NSW State of Origin captain Kezie Apps saying on Wednesday that “it’s definitely not on”

“And it’s one of those things we have to deal with but shouldn’t,” Apps said. “With all this mental health stuff coming’s just so heartbreaking to think that people can still think it is OK to write those types of comments.

“It’s not on and it shouldn’t be. No one should ever write anything like that about anybody.”

Queensland captain Ali Brigginshaw, who also showed her support for Robinson on social media, called on the rugby league community to continue calling out the behaviour.

“The comments always come, it’s about being thick-skinned I guess,” Brigginshaw said at the NRLW season launch on Wednesday. “But if the rugby league community get behind it, and I’m saying everyone that watches rugby league report these negative comments [it could help].

“Us women are very strong, but if you’re having that bad day and you see that comment, you might not be so strong.”

Jillaroos teammate Kirra Dibb branded the comments “disgusting” and said: “No one should be anything by complimentary to athletes that work incredibly hard to be the best in their sport.”

The club said the trolls’ comments were “belittling” and that there was no room for such attitudes in the game.

“Julia has been a Bronco since the very first day our NRLW team came together in 2018 and we are all angered by the words written by these trolls,” Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy said.

“Julia is a one of the hardest workers in both our men’s and women’s program, and her consistently elite performances on the field reflect the effort she puts into her training and preparation.

“That’s not to mention the widespread work she does in the community, and the inspiration she gives to young athletes, both boys and girls. Surely our society has moved beyond athletes and role models like Julia being belittled for a photo that showcases everything that is great about our sport.”

Robinson, 24, has been a part of the Broncos set-up since the league’s inaugural season four years ago when she was part of Brisbane’s first premiership-winning team.

She made her international debut for the Jillaroos the same year before winning two more NRLW premierships with the Broncos. She made her first State of Origin appearance in the Maroon’s win over NSW in 2020.

The NRLW’s fifth season begins this week, with Robinson expected to line up for the Broncos in their opener against Newcastle on Sunday.

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