Ahead of the rescheduled NRL Telstra Women's Premiership, NRL.com profiles the next crop of talent ready to make their mark in 2022.
- Name: Grace Griffin
- Age: 32
- Club: Titans
- Position: Five-eighth
More than a decade after coming up against Ali Brigginshaw at a national touch football tournament, Grace Griffin credits the Broncos captain for her latest opportunity.
At 32, Griffin thought her chances of playing in the NRL Telstra Women's Premiership were near non-existent after moving to Queensland for university seven years ago.
"If someone told me I'd be playing in the NRLW I probably would've laughed at them," Griffin told NRL.com.
A talented sportswoman who grew up in Wagga Wagga, Griffin's move north to study high school teaching saw her cross paths with Brigginshaw again in the Queensland City side.
From there, Brigginshaw has encouraged the late bloomer to play alongside her for Ipswich and Valleys at club level in recent years.
It was at Valleys the pair struck up a halves combination that guided the side to the 2021 BHP Premiership grand final, essentially putting Griffin on the radar with the Titans.
"I consider myself lucky to have formed that relationship with Ali since I got to Queensland because I think it's really benefited me," she said.
"I highly doubt Ali remembers when I played touch footy against her in year 11 but I think it's something we're seeing a lot is that transition from touch into contact sport.
The Titans hit the track for NRLW 2021
"She's an awesome player to play alongside because while she can be quiet sometimes she speaks so much through her actions.
"Watching her train and in games you learn so much about how to manage a side."
Brigginshaw was among the first that Griffin told of her NRLW deal despite the rivalry set to begin between the Titans and Broncos in 2022.
"She was so happy for me, she's one who is all about growing the game and seeing opportunities for players in the sport," Griffin said.
"She spoke highly of Feens (Jamie Feeney) and the squad and then promised she wouldn't direct too much traffic my way when we play her which was nice.
"Let's see if she keeps to her word."
After teaching the art of physical education in recent years, Griffin is now ready to turn student herself as one of 13 potential debutantes in the Titans squad.
'It’s a privilege to be here' - Feeney
Griffin started training alongside Kiwi Ferns pair Karli Hansen and Kimiora Breayley-Nati last week while Tiana Raftstrand-Smith is also an option for Feeney in the halves.
"I'm pretty calm but when it starts to become a reality I might be a bit nervous but mainly because I realise what an amazing opportunity this is," Griffin said.
"It helps that there is a greater interest with coaches who have that expert knowledge and I think it's starting to show in the game as well, the skills sets are improving."