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Niall Williams-Guthrie and Titans team-mate Destiny Mino-Sinapati at Samoa training

Fetū Samoa captain Niall Williams-Guthrie was asked during a school visit in Port Moresby how long she had been playing rugby league.

“I’ve actually only played 11 games so far,” Williams-Guthrie told the primary school students at Waigani Christian Centre.

However, while she may be an NRLW rookie, the Olympic silver medallist is creating a legacy she hopes can help Samoa earn a place in the 2026 World Cup.

Williams-Guthrie’s decision to turn down a place in the Kiwi Ferns squad to play for Samoa in Sunday’s Pacific Championship match against Fiji Bulikula is set to inspire other players of Samoan heritage to represent the island nation.

Niall Williams-Guthrie will lead the siva tau for  Fetū Samoa
Niall Williams-Guthrie will lead the siva tau for Fetū Samoa ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

“When the opportunity to play for Fetū Samoa came up, something in my heart just told me it was the right decision,” Williams-Guthrie told

“It's a real privilege and I get emotional just thinking about it because Samoa is a small nation, we don't have the most resources or all of the best players, but if I can help in some way to encourage players to choose our small country first, hopefully we can build and be a competitor at the next World Cup.”

With Australia, England, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea having qualified for RLWC2026 after being the semi-finalists at last year’s World Cup in England, there are expected to be two more spots available for Pacific nations.

The first step towards qualifying begins at Santos National Football Stadium, with Fetū Samoa playing for the first time in three years but now guaranteed annual fixtures under plans to grow the Pacific Championship in coming seasons.

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“Even just with the initial naming of the squad, you see how much it means to our people,” Williams-Guthrie said.

“I would never be a big name or anything like that, so for people to say it means so much for me to play shows what it’s about. We want to put our team on the radar and say you can choose our small nation and represent your heritage.”

As the mother to two daughters, Tatum-Lee and Rema-Rae, Williams-Guthrie also became a role model for Papua New Guinea girls keen to play league as concerns were aired during the school visit about the impact of the sport on child bearing.


The Titans star will dispel any lingering doubts they may still have when she leads the siva tau for the first time against Fiji on Sunday.

“It is a huge privilege,” she said. “Not many people get to captain their side, let alone their country, and being the the one standing in the middle leading the siva tau is a huge honour.

“Even just at siva tau practice, you feel the weight of our small nation so you just want to do well for them.

“It is a weight that I am embracing, even though it can be uncomfortable to have to speak Samoan, which I wasn’t raised with, but that’s what it is all about to learn and to grow.”

The former Black Ferns rugby sevens representative is eligible for Samoa through her paternal grandmother, Nellie Crichton, and her father, John, ensured she and her siblings, including brother Sonny Bill Williams, learned about their culture.

“I wouldn’t say we were very strict Samoan but we definitely had moments in our life where our dad made sure we lived and breathed with our Samoan family, which was really cool,” Williams-Guthrie said.

“When we would go to my aunties and uncles, or when we went to family reunions and would meet all of our cousins, like [former Manu Samoa international] Tim Nanai-Williams and Levina Williams, the singer, you really understood how important it is.”

William-Guthrie’s husband, Tamāli'i Guthrie, also has Samoan heritage and Tatum-Lee and Rema-Rae have been learning about the culture of the Pacific nation, which is proudly known by the 685 country code.

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“My girls spend a lot of time with my husband’s family, and they speak to them in Samoan and teach them the Samoan traditions,” Williams Guthrie said.

“Just like with how they learned all the names of the Titans girls, now they are learning the names of all the girls in the Fetū Samoa team. They are saying they are their aunties, which they are.

“But even before I joined this team ,it was all about Brian To’o. They even got a photo at the grand final with Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o and Spencer Leniu, so their day was  made because they are hard out ‘685 to the world’.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.