In the months since arriving in Sydney from New Zealand, Alexis Tauaneai has taken the women's league scene by storm and claimed two of the biggest individual awards on offer to emerging players.
The player of the tournament for both the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup and Harvey Norman Women’s National Championships this season, the 18-year-old's latest achievement came this week with inclusion in the New South Wales U-19 side for next month's Women’s Under 19s State of Origin match in Redcliffe.
It continues the rugby union convert's rapid rise in 2023, and after playing for the Bulldogs this year in state competition she is now set to make her NRLW debut this season with the Dragons.
"It's all happened very fast – I got picked up by the Dragons early in the year too – so it's all felt surreal to me," she told NRL.com.
My game has changed a lot already. At the Bulldogs we had a lot of people with NRL experience and that helped me, especially around tackling.Alexis Tauaneai
Such was her form for the Bulldogs in the Tarsha Gale Cup, Alexis was promoted to the club's Women's Premiership side in Round 7 and went on to become a starting front-rower for them as they went all the way to the grand final.
Later, while representing NSW City at the National Championships, she averaged 101 run metres per game on her way to claiming the Tahnee Norris Medal as the tournament's top player.
One of five siblings, Alexis and her elder sister Brooke made the move to Sydney from Wainuiomata in January and the rest of the family followed three months later.
While she is set to be the first member of her family to crack the NRL Telstra Women's Premiership, Alexis is unlikely to be the last, with her three sisters all aiming to join her in coming years.
Trinity, 16, and Paige, 15, are part of the academy system at the Bulldogs, while Brooke, who is 23, is now dedicating herself to league after previously playing rugby union.
"All of us want to play NRLW together in the same team. We have never all played in the same team, but that’s the goal, to have all of us together one day," Alexis said.
"[We talk about footy together] all the time and I am always checking in and asking how their trainings are going and stuff.
"My family has always been supportive of each other, especially in league. Mum and dad have always dropped everything for us; that’s just the type of parents they are.
"For them to drop everything and come and support us in Australia wasn’t a surprise.
"Now I want to repay the favour and help give back to them and support them as best I can."
Match: QLD U19s v NSW U19s
Round 1 -
Venue: Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe