Kempsey’s Nakia Davis-Welsh is one step closer to fulfilling her lifelong dream after she earned selection into the Australian Women’s squad to compete at the Rugby League World Cup.
The Redfern All Blacks fullbacks’s selection comes on the back of a breakout year.
She finished the season as the top try scorer of the inaugural Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership with 22 tries and played a starring role in leading her side to grand final glory.
Nakia was picked in the squad for the Anzac Day test between Australia and New Zealand earlier in the season but wasn’t selected into the final team list.
She believes the camp gave her valuable experience.
“Being a part of the squad in Canberra will be a big help, I know what to expect now but I also expect it to be a lot harder this time around,” Nakia told the Argus.
“I’m stoked to be a part of it again and hopefully I can get on the field and make my debut.
“It would mean the world to me, it has been my dream since I was little to one day play at this level.”
Nakia isn’t knew to representative honours, she played for New South Wales in the State of Origin for the past two seasons and represented indigenous sides for the last five.
The 21-year-old credits part of her success to her father, Paul Davis, who played 40 games over two season for the Balmain Tigers, and her older brother Paul Davis-Welsh, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2009.
Paul Davis-Welsh was following in his father’s footsteps and paving his own rugby league career, as the 15-year-old passed away two weeks after signing a three year deal with the Gold Coast Titans.
Nakia, who is three years younger than her brother, looked up to Paul and she honours his memory before every game by writing his name on strapping tape across her right wrist.
She always takes a few minutes to remember her brother and feels him with her when she plays the game they both loved.
“He’s always in my thoughts and I know he’s with me when I am out there on the field playing,” Nakia said.
Nakia remembers playing rugby league at a young age with her brother.
“I would follow him and his mates around, they played games of footy in the park and he would let me join in,” Nakia said.
It was in those muck around games where Nakia first developed the skills which would lead to her pulling on the green and gold to represent Australia on the biggest stage of rugby league.
“I enjoyed the contact and didn’t shy away from it, Paul showed me how to spiral pass and helped me be the creative player I am today,” Nakia said.
After the passing of his only son, Paul Davis moved his family to Newcastle to send Nakia to Hunter Sports High, to give her the best opportunity to pursue her sporting aspirations.
The move has already paid dividends but it would be capped off by an appearance in the Rugby League World Cup final.
“It would mean the world to play in the final, it’s something I have dreamed about since I was a young girl” Nakia said.
“I grew up in the small town of Kempsey and I will be playing for my family, friends and community.”
The Jillaroos head into the tournament as the defending champions and are expected to reach the final which will be held at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
The Women’s World Cup final is a curtain raiser for the men’s final.