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Rookie watch: Raftstrand-Smith ready to make titanic impact

Ahead of the rescheduled NRL Telstra Women's Premiership, NRL.com profiles the next crop of talent ready to make their mark in 2022.

Rookie snapshot

  • Name: Tiana Raftstrand-Smith
  • Age: 18
  • NRLW club: Titans
  • Position: Utility

Fans became familiar with Tiana Raftstrand-Smith in 2021 when she claimed player of the tournament honours at the Harvey Norman National Championships and selection for Queensland in women's State of Origin in June.

A Keebra Park High School graduate, Raftstrand-Smith grew up playing rugby sevens before switching to rugby league in her teens.

Building her game as a five-eighth, the 18-year-old has also floated between the back-row, centres and lock in the past 12 months while playing for Burleigh and representative sides.

She formed a powerful back-row combination for Queensland with Tazmin Gray in women's Origin, running for 74 metres with three tackle busts, an offload and 18 tackles on debut.

"I didn't think I was going to come back to league [in 2021] but coming back it's been an awesome decision," Raftstrand-Smith told NRL.com.

Rookie watch: Impressive Titans utility Tiana Raftstrand-Smith

"I'm learning so much about the game and only want to get better. Tazmin's a big leader, I love learning off her and she leads by example through her actions.

"It's cool to be under her wing. Everything about that Origin game was exciting and I want to be part of it all again."

Raftsrand-Smith is one of 13 possible debutantes in the Titans NRLW squad for the rescheduled 2021 competition and is eyeing off two short-term goals; locking in a spot in Jamie Feeney's NRLW side and earning a Maori All Stars debut.

"That's one of the big things I'd love to make, I love my culture and watching the game previously the week focuses on that," she said.

"I'm trying to stay in the halves next year but in all honestly, I'd love to just get an NRLW debut, play for the Titans and represent the community.

"Especially with our new logo design at the club and everything, it's a new environment for everyone and we're looking forward to building from here."

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Tiana Raftstrand-Smith (@_tiana_r.s_)

Titans stalwart Steph Hancock had nothing but praise for Raftstrand-Smith ahead of the season kicking off in February.

"She's going to be a star, that kid, just from what I've seen of her already," Hancock said.

"I'm glad she's on my team. There are a few of them we've got at the club like her, Destiny Brill is another one... it's a scary prospect for the opposition."