The St George Illawarra Dragons have finalised their 2019 NRL Holden Women's Premiership squad following the signing of a further five players.
Front-rowers Ngatokotoru Arakua and Najvada George, back-rower Sarah Togatuki and centres Alexandrea Kiriwi and Stephanie Mooka are the Dragons' final five signings for season 2019.
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"Across the board, I'm really excited about where we're at with the 22 players we have signed overall," Dragons Women's Premiership coach Daniel Lacey said.
"We have a really good mix with plenty of experience, talent and youth. We have new and returning players, local juniors and most importantly we have depth.
"We are excited by the possibilities of this squad. The competition can't come quick enough now."
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New Zealand Kiwi Ferns front-rower Arakua is the fifth inaugural premiership-winning Brisbane Bronco to sign with the Dragons for season 2019.
A wrecking ball off the bench for the Broncos last year, Arakua will bring undeniable aggression and firepower to the Red V pack, according to coach Lacey.
"Toru (Arakua) is another forward who brings experience to our pack and a player who lives up to theory of having someone playing with you rather than against you," Lacey said.
"She demonstrated her skill base in the inaugural Women's Premiership season and showed how good she can be when she ran over numerous players while playing for the Broncos, including some of our own!"
Queensland Origin centre Mooka's lofty rise through the rugby league ranks in 2019 will continue at the Dragons this season. Lacey labelled the proud indigenous woman Mooka as one of the success stories of this year's National Championships.
"Steph's athleticism was definitely something that stood out from the get-go when she ran out for Queensland Country, and it obviously impressed others too considering her selection for the Queensland Origin team," he said.
"She is someone we're really excited about working with at the Dragons, to see if she can reach her full potential. She'll be dangerous if she can."
Togatuki and George were two players who came to the Dragons attention following their selection in the Prime Minister's XIII team to face Papua New Guinea at the end of 2018.
Samoan international Togatuki joins the Dragons from last year's grand finalists Sydney Roosters, while Victorian junior George has been a long-term prospect for Lacey over the past two years.
"Sarah is someone with a lot of leg speed and aggression plus she runs at 100 miles an hour which is certainly impressive," Lacey said. "We identified line and game speed as something we need to improve on from last year and she'll definitely help the Dragons in those departments.
"Najvada actually came to the Dragons' attention at the inaugural National Championships in 2018. I've been in touch with her ever since, where we came up with a plan for her to keep building on her young rugby league career," Lacey added.
"Her move to the Wests Tigers' NSW Women's Premiership team this year came after her impressive performance for the Prime Minister's XIII team. Najvada is a very consistent forward with still a lot to learn so I'm excited to keep working with her."
North Sydney Bears Women's Premiership utility Kiriwi has recommenced her rugby league career this season following a pregnancy hiatus. Kiriwi's capability of playing in a number of positions has impressed Lacey most upon her return.
"I'm really keen to see what we can do with Lexi's game," Lacey said. "She's has really shown while playing for North Sydney that she can work hard on the field. Lexi's utility value is exactly what we needed in completing our squad."
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The Dragons' Women's Premiership team is the pinnacle of the female rugby league pathway across the club's region – from Earlwood in Sydney to Bateman's Bay on the South Coast – with more than 15,000 girls and women from Under-6s to opens currently competing in our region across tackle, tag and touch football.
2019 St George Illawarra's NRL Holden Women's Premiership squad:
- Kezie Apps
- Ngatokotoru Arakua
- Shaylee Bent
- Brittany Breayley
- Keeley Davis
- Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa'amausili
- Maitua Feterika
- Teuila Fotu-Moala
- Najvada George
- Rikeya Horne
- Takilele Katoa
- Alexandrea Kiriwi
- Stephanie Mooka
- Kimiora Nati
- Tiana Penitani
- Jessica Sergis
- Maddie Studdon
- Sarah Togatuki
- Shakiah Tungai
- Botille Vette-Welsh
- Maddison Weatherall
- Holli Wheeler