Santos PNG Orchids debutant Lisa-Marie Alu will be one to watch at the Rugby League World Cup. The 25-year-old was named player of the match in the Orchids’ #RLWC2021 warm-up clash against York after a two-try performance and impressive defensive display.
Lisa-Marie, who hails from Jiwaka but lives in Port Moresby, put herself on the radar of the Orchids’ nationwide selection process in early 2022 with impressive performances in multiple tournaments. But, even before this development in her rugby league career, she was already making an impact in her home province.
Spurred on by watching the Orchids’ international debut at RLWC2017, she took up rugby league in 2018 and was selected to represent her country later that year. The Southern Highlander captained the Orchids in the 2019 test series against England, raising her international profile and earning a professional contract with St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRLW – the first PNG-based woman to do so. Elsie has now played three seasons of NRLW, including one Grand Final, with the Dragons, and will again captain the Orchids at #RLWC2021.
The Women's Rugby League World is set and ready to kick of on this week Tuesday.
Jessikah Reeves grew up in Brisbane with the PNG side of her family, but it has been a call-up to the Orchids that has helped her realise how much PNG has been a part of her life.
The 21-year-old forward, who was a non-playing member of the Brisbane Broncos NRLW squad for the 2021 season, was persuaded to explore representing her PNG heritage by former Brisbane Tigers club teammate, Orchid #42 Angela Watego.
When Sera Koroi found out she was pregnant in mid-2021, she thought her long-held dream to represent the Orchids at a Rugby League World Cup was over, with the tournament scheduled for November that year. But a 12-month postponement left the door ajar for Sera, whose mother is from New Ireland Province and whose father is from Fiji, to play for PNG after all.
Sera explains: “When I got pregnant, it was God’s plan for me. I really trusted that no matter what. Then when the tournament got postponed, I thought it was meant to be. Before I knew I was pregnant, I actually injured my angle which forced me to stop playing, which was His way of taking me out of the sport and making sure my son would be healthy.
“After I had my son Viliame on 28 October 2021, it was pretty hard because I had a C-section, and I knew that would delay my return to rugby league. But I started training again after three months and my club coach at Souths Logan Magpies in Brisbane, Maia Tua-Davidson, was very supportive.”