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Why Giampino wants to follow Robinson's pathway

Versatile Caboolture product Grace Giampino is keen to follow in the footsteps of Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons star Julia Robinson as she prepares to play for Queensland Under 17 Country following a stellar season.

Recently named the Sunshine Coast Falcons Harvey Norman Under 19 player of the year, Grace has her sights set on higher honours as her rugby league career kicks off.

Robinson is a private in the Australian Army and burst on the scene to become a rugby league sensation for the Brisbane Broncos, Maroons and Jillaroos. 

She is one of the most charismatic and popular players in the game, particularly with young girls who identify with her story of playing no league at all for most of her life before becoming a star on the back of hard work.

It is a story Grace can relate to in more ways than one. 

"I really look up to Julia Robinson... just with the background she has come from," Grace said.

Grace in action for the Falcons. Photo: Sunshine Coast Falcons
Grace in action for the Falcons. Photo: Sunshine Coast Falcons

"I have a defence force family and I've admired her pathway... coming from the defence force and the way she started out of nowhere and becoming what she is today.

"Both my parents were in the defence force for many years and I've got brothers and aunties as well with that background.

"I used to play netball as my first sport and I wasn't really into football, but I just wanted to give it a try, and then I fell in love with the sport after that."

Robinson's progression has shown Grace there is "an amazing opportunity" to progress to the NRLW and beyond if she can keep taking great strides forward.

The 17-year-old is well on her way after starring for the Falcons in the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition and being awarded club player of the year after the Falcons won their Central region title.

"It certainly wasn't expected," Grace said of the award.

"I have been lucky enough to play alongside an amazing group of girls at the Sunshine Coast for the last five years and every one of them was deserving of that award.

"I am very grateful for the recognition. I am one of the younger girls and got the opportunity to work with a lot of older girls so it was a great step up to push my boundaries. It was great fun."

Country coach Amanda Ohl said Grace would be a huge asset to the team.

"I have watched her in the under 19s campaign and she is a very strong runner of the football," Ohl said.

"She started out in the second row in the first game and she is a bigger body who runs great lines and has that ability to hurt you in defence as well.

"At the moment she is scheduled to play in the centres for us, but it is great that Grace has that utility value and can play multiple positions."

Getting selected in the Country side is a real thrill for the Caboolture State High student and she will line up alongside fellow Falcons including Makayla Everding, Nancy Sullivan, Shae Holliday and Kirra Smith in the team.

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to play alongside some great girls," Grace said.

"I have been playing with Kirra Smith since she was 11. She plays with me at the Caboolture Snakes.

"I started off just watching school girls trial and I got asked to play. It all started after that when I was in the Sunshine Coast under 11s. I have been playing for five years now and just love it."

Grace said she loved to mix it in the forwards or the backs.

"I like centre because it gives me an opportunity to run the ball and use the speed I have, and I like running lines," Grace said.

"Jessica Sergis is just amazing to watch and is a player I admire. It is great to see someone perform the way she does,  just with her speed and aggressiveness in games. 

"In the second row I like getting involved, so I can tackle more. I enjoy the contact."