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At 17, Monalisa Soliola had barely played rugby league. At 18, she’ll make her NRLW debut

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At 17, Monalisa Soliola had barely played a game of rugby league in her life. At 18, she’ll be making her NRLW debut for one of the competition powerhouses.

It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Soliola, who only pulled on the boots for the first time a year ago for a run around with St John’s Eagles in Sydney’s west and will now come off the bench for the Dragons in their NRLW season opener against the Titans on Sunday.

“This time last year I’d just started my footy journey, playing for St John’s. I didn’t think I’d get this opportunity or that I’d be at this level, especially just in a year,” Soliola said.

“I had no thought in my mind that this could happen, it was a goal but I didn’t think it would happen like this.

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“It’s been different to what I expected, it’s been a higher level than I thought it would be. I thought it might be a bit like Harvey Norman (women’s premiership) with the Sharks and I was so wrong, going into training straight off the bat it was way faster, everyone was more switched on.

“I can tell the game will be faster and the contact will be way bigger, so it’ll be a big jump. But as an NRLW player I have to believe in myself, that I deserve to be here because I’ve worked just as hard as anybody.”

Monalisa is related to former Canberra prop Sia Soliola. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

Rugby league has always been a part of Soliola’s life. Former Raiders prop Sia Soliola is a cousin to her father John – who named her in memory of another cousin — and she’s the eldest of ten siblings, eight of whom currently play for St John’s.

She finally took up the sport after falling out of love with netball and from there the front-rower has gone from strength to strength, shining for Canterbury in Tarsha Gale Cup, then for Cronulla in the NSW Women’s Premiership before representing New South Wales Under 19s.

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