It’s been a rollercoaster two years for Paige Parker.
The former Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns talent was delisted by the Suns in June of 2021, ending a three-season stint in the AFLW.
But from the closing of one chapter came a new and unexpected beginning for Parker, who was quickly picked up by the Newcastle Knights for the postponed 2021 season of the NRLW.
With an impressive background in touch football, including representative honours for Queensland and Australia, it seemed like it was going to be a fairly straight forward code switch for the 27-year-old.
“I went straight from AFL to playing league last year,” Parker said.
“I got delisted by Suns and I got an opportunity to go to the Knights, straight into the NRLW, with my experience from touch. It was a new opportunity and it was suited to my skillset.
“I trained for a whole year but ended up only playing about two games. I had my third game last week in a trial.”
After making her NRLW debut against the Gold Coast Titans – her only game within the competition – Parker joined Burleigh Bears for the 2022 BMD Premiership season and then signed with the Brisbane Broncos.
She played one game for Burleigh but didn’t make it onto the field for Brisbane.
While her game time has been limited, Parker has fallen in love with the game of rugby league.
And in 2023, as she prepares for the BMD Premiership now at Tweed Seagulls, she is eager to get a full and proper season under her belt.
“I feel like I haven’t really had much game time so I’m really looking forward to actually getting into it and getting into the contact,” Parker said.
“I just want to get some footy under my belt. I love playing with Tweed so hopefully we can get some wins and play some good footy this season.
“I’ve learnt heaps over the past year. I’ve learnt completely how to play the game, tackle tech, getting into actual game play.
“I love the vibes at league clubs as well. It’s like get in, do the hard work, go home. There’s no faffing about. It’s something I like about league.”
Parker - who credits former Broncos NRLW coach Kelvin Wright as having had the biggest impact on her since making the code switch – said the decision to come to Tweed was a fairly easy one.
She already knew a few of the players and after coming down for a trial training session, she knew it was where she wanted to be moving forward.
Throughout her training and within the few games she has played, Parker has mostly tested herself out as a centre, winger or fullback.
But now that she’s at Tweed – and with the losses of Tarryn Aiken (Central Coast Roosters NSW), Jada Ferguson (Norths Devils) and Georgia Hale (Leeds Rhinos) - she has been training in the halves and will make her club debut in Round 1 at five-eighth against the Central Queensland Capras.
“It’s a good culture around the club,” Parker said of Tweed.
“Everyone was very friendly.
“The coaches (Lawrence Faifua and Lombros To'Omaga), I feel like I can relate to them a lot as they have touch footy experience as well.
“They’ve been helping me make that transition from touch to league and it’s easier when you have a coach that’s done the same thing.
“I’m moving into the halves at the moment. I like ball playing from playing touch. I can’t really say how I’m going until I play a few games but I feel good about it at training and the girls have been helping me out.”
Tweed Seagulls 2023 gains and losses
Chelsea Apps, Gemma Bemrose, Halle Braybon, Chloe Caldwell, Nikiah Campbell, Lucy Lockhart, Gloria Murray-Fiu, Laken Paitai, Paige Parker, Gabriella Rivers, Kolora Rosi Lomani, Stefanie Thomas
Tarryn Aiken, Brianna Clark, Jada Ferguson, Paremo Gallagher, Georgia Hale, Leticia Hass-Quinlan, Cobie Jane-Morgan, Ngapoko Kamana, Isabella Lee, Serena Martin, Shannon Mato, Carly McGrath, Tessa Pennefather, Illarrah Roberts, Elissabeth Ross, Maddison Shaw, Emma Stockham