The St George Illawarra Dragons are pleased to announce the signings of local juniors Talia Atfield, Georgina Brooker, Keeley Davis and Shakiah Tungai for the inaugural NRL Holden Women's Premiership.

All four of the Dragons' latest signings were born and bred in either the Wollongong or South Coast regions, exhibiting once again the development of women's rugby league in the club's catchment areas.

The Dragons' latest signings mean eight players within the club's Women's Premiership squad are from local catchment areas.

Three of these young females –five-eighth Atfield, hooker Davis, and centre Tungai – are also members of the Dragons' High Performance Unit (HPU) squad

The women's HPU is a seven-week program complete with a mixture of education, field skill and drills and gym sessions, and ultimately perpetuates the further development of young women who either play in the area or for the club's two Tarsha Gale Cup sides.

Corrimal Cougar Davis, who at 18 years old will be the Dragons' Holden Women's Premiership squad's youngest player, is an example of the genuine pathway now in place at the club.

The New South Wales Country representative was the inaugural Illawarra Steelers' Player of the Year in 2017, and will once again link up with coach Daniel Lacey for the NRL Women's Premiership.

"It's unreal to be one of the first women to complete the Dragons' pathway from the juniors to now the NRL squad," Davis said.

"I never thought I'd see it happen in my playing career. To have had the faith of Daniel from the very beginning of my Dragons career to now has proven to be a very big help too."

Avondale Greyhound Tungai is another whose quick development saw her feature heavily for the NSW Country side at the recent National Championships.

"It's a really big honour to sign with the Dragons and even better that I still get to play locally too," Tungai said. 

"It's awesome to have earned this opportunity and it's exciting that we locals get to show other young female players in the local area that if you play well then big opportunities like this will come."

Although injury has kept Helensburgh Tiger Atfield out for the past 12 months, she has come along in leaps and bounds since her return.

The Bomaderry Swamp Rats junior played for New South Wales Country in 2017 and is hoping her signing with the Dragons will catapult her back into representative calculations.

"I'm really excited to be a part of the first-ever Dragons' women's team and I'm very grateful for this opportunity, it's one I'll be taking with both hands," Atfield said.

"There was a time there where I never thought I'd get back on the footy field which was hard. But I was pointed in the right direction and now I'm back playing, which is the most amazing feeling."

While front-rower Brooker doesn't currently play in the area, she is a veteran of the Illawarra competition having played since she was eight.

The Woonona Bulls junior has also played for the Thirroul Butchers, Helensburgh Tigers and Corrimal Cougars, and is another who played for the New South Wales Country side recently.

"It hasn't really hit me yet that I'll be a part of the Dragons' Women's Premiership team. The fact I've been a part of the game for so long - and that this is something so big for women's rugby league - I find it unbelievable to be in this position," Brooker said.

"Once (Daniel) Lacey told me that he wanted me in his squad, I haven't stopped dreaming about what is to come."

Dragons granted NRL Women's Premiership license

The Dragons' Holden Women's Premiership squad now sits at 14 and will be completed by Tuesday, July 31, with training scheduled to begin on Wednesday, August 1.

Further signings will be announced in the coming days once contracts are officially formalised.

Biographies

Talia Atfield

  • New South Wales Country (2017)
  • New South Wales pathways squad (2017)

Georgina Brooker

  • New South Wales Country (2018)

Keeley Davis

  • New South Wales Country (2018)
  • Illawarra Steelers' Tarsha Gale Cup Player of the Year

Shakiah Tungai

  • New South Wales Country (2018)
  • Kyah Simon Player of the Tournament Medal at National Indigenous Soccer Championships (2016)

St George Illawarra's NRL Holden Women's Premiership squad (so far):

  • Kezie Apps
  • Talia Atfield
  • Sam Bremner
  • Georgina Brooker
  • Keeley Davis
  • Honey Hireme
  • Rikeya Horne
  • Raecene McGregor
  • Talesha Quinn
  • Oneata Schwalger
  • Anneka Stephens
  • Jessica Sergis
  • Shakiah Tungai
  • Holli Wheeler