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BMD Premiership to the NRLW: The 2023 graduates

Women's rugby league continues to go from strength to strength each year, with new talent emerging from all corners of the game.

In 2023, this trend continued for Queensland Rugby League's female pathways, with 22 players graduating from the BMD Premiership into the NRLW.

A number of these players also came through the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition and, with victories over New South Wales in both the Under 19 and State of Origin arenas, it appears the women's game is flourishing in the sunshine state.

Here are those who made the jump from BMD Premiership into the NRLW in 2023.

BMD Premiership to NRLW: The 2023 graduates

The 2023 graduates

1. Destiny Mino-Sinapati: Seagulls to Titans

Mino-Sinapati was one of the breakout stars of 2023, not only graduating from Harvey Norman Under 19s to BMD Premiership but going that one step further into the NRLW. The Wynnum Manly fullback – who picked up the 2023 BMD Premiership Rookie of the Year – debuted for the Seagulls in Round 3 and finished the season with two tries, 21 tackle breaks, five line breaks and four try assists, as well as a grand final appearance. The teen sensation – who also represented Queensland Under 19 and Samoa in 2023 – then debuted for the Gold Coast Titans in Round 1 on the wing and was a mainstay in the team, going through to the NRLW premiership decider. For the Titans, Mino-Sinapati scored three tries, had 29 tackle breaks, five line breaks and a total of 975 run metres.

2. Chantay Kiria-Ratu: Magpies to Titans

The talented playmaker has continued her impressive rise through the ranks, this year joining Souths Logan Magpies in the BMD Premiership. Kiria-Ratu excelled with the minor premiers, finishing the regular season undefeated. Dangerous with the ball in hand, the halfback played five games and during this time notched up two tries, four try assists and four line break assists. The Queensland Under 19 five-eighth then went on to debut for the Gold Coast Titans in Round 1 of the NRLW season at halfback. By Round 2 she was in the No.6 jersey and stayed there for the remainder of the season, helping steer the Titans to the grand final. In 11 appearances, Kiria-Ratu scored two tries, set up another three tries, and had six line break assists, eight offloads and 673 run metres.

3. Sareka Mooka: Cutters to Cowboys

The versatile 23-year-old made a bang for the Mackay Cutters in their debut season in the BMD Premiership. Having played for the North Queensland Gold Stars in 2022, Mooka stayed true to her northern roots in 2023. Hard to contain, the forward – who can also play in the centres – finished the BMD Premiership season with 18 tackle breaks, three tries, five offloads and 392 run metres. This consistent form saw her make her NRLW debut for the North Queensland Cowboys in Round 1, starting in their inaugural match against the Gold Coast Titans. Across the NRLW season, Mooka was primarily used as an interchange forward and brought the impact with a total of 352 run metres, five tackle breaks and one try.

4. Sera Koroi: Magpies to Cowboys

The PNG international was an integral part of Souths Logan’s undefeated run in 2023. Playing the majority of the BMD Premiership season at centre, Koroi finished the year with four tries, 11 tackle breaks and 355 run metres. She then signed with the North Queensland Cowboys for their debut NRLW season and came off the bench for the Townsville-based team in Round 1. Across eight appearances, Koroi ran for 218 metres, made 98 tackles and recorded two tackle breaks.

Get to know Sera Koroi

5. Breanna Eales: Devils to Broncos

In her debut BMD Premiership season, Eales impressed in what was a tough year for Norths Devils. The forward was particularly strong in defence, finishing with 95.8 per cent tackle efficiency and an average of 23 tackles per game. Her efforts saw her pick up a Brisbane Broncos contract, with Eales playing four NRLW games, including a Round 1 debut. Her defensive steel continued at the higher level, with Eales maintaining a 93.1 per cent tackle efficiency. She also ran for 242 metres, with 88.7 post-contact metres.

6. Emma Barnes: Seagulls to Raiders 

The 19-year-old young gun went from strength to strength in 2023. As part of Wynnum Manly’s youthful spine, the interchange hooker starred for the Seagulls. She scored two tries, set up another three, and notched up three line break assists, 74 tackles and 334 run metres across six matches, including a grand final appearance. Barnes then headed south to join the Canberra Raiders in their debut NRLW season. She came off the bench in Round 1 against the Cronulla Sharks, scoring a try in her first NRLW game. She finished season 2023 with five appearances, two tries, one try assist, one line break assist, 61 tackles and 126 run metres.

7. Tara Reinke: Tigers to Raiders

The proud Toowoomba product was a shining light for the Brisbane Tigers in 2023. In seven appearances, Reinke was an absolute machine, finishing the BMD Premiership season with 203 tackles and a jaw-dropping average of 168 run metres per game. She racked up 17 tackle breaks and had 442.8 post-contact metres. It was no surprise to see her pick up an NRLW contract with the Canberra Raiders, where she made her debut in Round 1. The 24-year-old prop was used off the bench for the Raiders and across her first NRLW season she made 305 run metres, 89 tackles and five tackle busts.

8. Sienna Lofipo: Seagulls to Titans

Season 2023 was a special one for young playmaking sensation, Lofipo. Not only did she graduate from the Harvey Norman Under 19s to the BMD Premiership with Wynnum Manly, but she went on to captain the Queensland Under 19 team and experience a State of Origin camp as the 19th player for Game II with the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons. She capped off the year making an unexpected NRLW debut with the Gold Coast Titans, after she was activated as 18th player in the 57th minute of their Round 1 clash against the North Queensland Cowboys. Lofipo retained her place in the Titans’ 17, even playing in the grand final loss to Newcastle. In 10 appearances for the Titans, the 18-year-old scored two tries, had 17 tackle breaks, four offloads, 437 run metres and 111 tackles.

Sienna Lofipo: ‘Holy moly it was tough out there’

9. Shellie Long: Magpies to Cowboys

A long-awaited NRLW debut came for talented PNG international Long in Round 1. After another strong season in the BMD Premiership – this year joining the Souths Logan Magpies – the Cowboys gave the versatile centre her chance in their Round 1 meeting with the Gold Coast. In the BMD Premiership, Long played on the wing and at centre, scoring three tries in three appearances. She also notched up one try assist, eight tackle breaks and four line breaks. In the NRLW, she earned far more game time, playing eight matches with one try, one try assist, five tackle busts, one line break, 86 tackles and 346 run metres.

10. Rilee Jorgensen: Bears to Titans

Another Queensland Under 19 talent who was catapulted to the top of the women’s game in 2023 was tough Burleigh Bears forward, Jorgensen. A key part of Burleigh’s BMD Premiership campaign – which saw them win the 2023 grand final – the second rower always set a high standard, finishing the season with one try, one line break, three offloads, 136 tackles and 677 run metres. Named the player of the match in Queensland’s Under 19 win against New South Wales, Jorgensen then went on to debut for the Titans in Round 2 of the NRLW. She made a particular impact in defence throughout the season, finishing with 139 tackles and a 93.3 per cent efficiency.

Rilee Jorgensen: ‘Never felt anything like it’

11. Dannii Perese: Bears to Titans

After their premiership-winning season, the Bears saw a number of players pick up NRLW contracts in 2023. Another first-timer was prop, Perese. In her second BMD Premiership season, Perese stood tall for Burleigh’s pack with an average of 106 run metres per game and 109 tackles across the year. She also joined the Titans for the NRLW and made her debut alongside Jorgensen in Round 2. She finished the season with seven appearances, racking up 427 run metres and a tackle efficiency of 94.2 per cent. Perese also recorded one try, six tackle breaks and three offloads.

12. Fiona Jahnke: Devils to Sharks

The 20-year-old talent, who played Queensland Under 19s in 2021 and 2022, lined up for Norths Devils in BMD Premiership in 2023 after a successful previous season with West Brisbane Panthers. Playing off the bench and in lock and prop across seven games throughout the year, Jahnke made 92 tackles and averaged 88 run metres. Jahnke made her NRLW debut for Cronulla Sharks in Round 3 of the NRLW season against Gold Coast Titans and also made one appearance for Fetu Samoa in 2023.

Road to BMD Premiership: Fiona Jahnke

13. Kim Hunt: Seagulls to Eels 

The 30-year-old centre, who hails from Tully, was unstoppable for Wynnum Manly Seagulls in 2023. Hunt crossed for eight tries, kicked five goals, made 11 line breaks, 87 tackles and averaged 100 run metres across seven games. On the back of her impressive form for Wynnum Manly, Hunt made her NRLW debut for Parramatta Eels against Newcastle Knights in Round 3 and played seven games. She scored five tries, made 21 tackle breaks, 55 tackles and averaged 89 run metres.

14. Essay Banu: Cutters to Cowboys

Tully continued to produce the goods, with Banu going from strength to strength in 2023. The 21-year-old prop played five games for Mackay Cutters in 2023 after a successful season with Wynnum Manly Seagulls in 2022. She scored one try, made five tackle breaks, 34 tackles and averaged 74 run metres across those five games. Banu – who has represented Indigenous All Stars, PNG Orchids and PNG’s PM XIII in 2023 – made her NRLW debut off the bench for North Queensland Cowboys in Round 4 against Wests Tigers.

Essay Banu. Photo: NRL Imagery
Essay Banu. Photo: NRL Imagery

15. Jessikah Reeves: Tigers/Magpies to Cowboys

Reeves, who has been part of the Queensland representative pathways over the years including playing for the Queensland Under 18 side in 2021, made her NRLW debut for North Queensland Cowboys against West Tigers in Round 4, off the back of playing for Brisbane Tigers and Souths Logan Magpies in previous seasons. The 22-year-old prop, who also appeared for PNG Orchids in 2023, made 92 tackles and averaged 69 run metres across five games for the Cowboys.

16. Felila Kia: Seagulls to Knights

The 19-year-old centre – a former Australian champion discus thrower - lined up for Wynnum Manly Seagulls in the BMD Premiership twice in 2023 after scoring four tries across five games during the 2022 season and representing the Queensland Rubys at the Harvey Norman Women’s National Championship and the Queensland Under 19s in 2022. The destructive ball-runner and strong defender made her NRLW debut for Newcastle Knights against the Gold Coast Titans in Round 4 and made a total of three appearances for the Knights in 2023.

17. Libby Surha: Cutters to Cowboys

The talented centre and second rower had a massive 2023, representing the Australian PM’s XIII, playing in the Queensland Under 19 side and playing six games for Mackay Cutters in the BMD Premiership. Surha scored two tries and averaged 77 run metres during her six games for the Cutters. And after a stellar BMD Premiership season, Surha made her NRLW debut for North Queensland Cowboys against Parramatta Eels in Round 6 and scored a try in her debut game.

Libby Surha: 'This is definitely the first step in my career'

18. Sophie Buller: Bears to Titans

The 22-year-old lock was excellent for 2023 BMD Premiership premiers Burleigh. Buller scored two tries across her seven games for the Bears in 2023; she also made 19 tackle breaks, 137 tackles and averaged 87 run metres per game. Off the back of her fine form, Buller made her NRLW debut for Gold Coast Titans against St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 6.

19. Lily Peacock: Cutters to Cowboys

The talented teen prop, part of the Queensland Under 19 side in 2023, made three appearances for the Mackay Cutters in the BMD Premiership and impressed those in the know at North Queensland Cowboys, earning her NRLW debut against St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 7. Peacock made two more appearances for the Cowboys in Round 8 and Round 9 and will no doubt be looking to build on that in season 2024.

20. Jacinta Carter: Seagulls to Knights

The hard-running prop put her best foot forward playing for Wynnum Manly Seagulls in the BMD Premiership in 2022, landing an opportunity with the Newcastle Knights. The 19-year-old, who starred for the Queensland Under 19 side against New South Wales in 2023, made her NRLW debut against Sydney Roosters in Round 8.

21. Alisha Foord: Cutters to Cowboys

The 26-year-old halfback, who was part of the North Queensland Gold Stars side in 2022, lined up for Mackay Cutters eight times in 2023. Foord scored one try, kicked one goal, had six try assists, made 110 tackles and averaged 34 run metres each game across the season. Her stellar form saw her debut in the NRLW for North Queensland Cowboys against Sydney Roosters in Round 9.  

22. Ellie Williamson: Seagulls to Dragons

Williamson made her debut in the BMD Premiership in 2021 for West Brisbane Panthers, but made her mark in 2023 for Wynnum Manly Seagulls then Tweed Seagulls. Williamson played five-eighth for Wynnum Manly in Round 1 before moving to Tweed, where she played off the bench and in lock from Round 4 to Round 7. Across her five appearances in 2023, Williamson scored one try, made nine tackle breaks, 81 tackles and averaged 57.1 run metres each game. Williamson made her NRLW debut for St George Illawarra Dragons against Brisbane Broncos in Round 9, where she scored a try, made one line break, three tackle breaks and 25 tackles in 62 minutes.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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