Family Heartache Driving Jillaroos Debutant
Her rugby league bloodline boasts a modern great in Greg Inglis and a legend of North Coast rugby league in father Paul Davis but her late brother will be the one closest to Nakia Davis-Welsh's heart when she makes her Jillaroos debut in next week's Women's Rugby League World Cup in Sydney.
A member of the extended Jillaroos squad for the mid-year Test, Davis-Welsh is yet to represent the Jillaroos in an official fixture but is expected to be given her first taste of green and gold in the tournament opener against the Cook Islands at Cronulla's Southern Cross Group Stadium next Thursday.
A star for both the Women's Indigenous All Stars team that was victorious in Newcastle for the first time this year and for the premiership-winning Redfern All Blacks in the Harvey Norman NSW Women's competition, Davis-Welsh is a fleet-footed outside back who scored five slashing tries in one game this season.
As a youngster Davis-Welsh would join her father for the team song in the dressing rooms after another Macksville win and beg older brother, also named Paul, to let her play footy whenever he would meet up with his cousins and mates for a game.
But just days before Paul junior was due to represent the NSW Indigenous under-16 team at the inaugural All Stars game on the Gold Coast he was killed in a car accident in Kempsey, leaving behind a pain within the Davis-Welsh family that will never heal.
After sneaking on to play in the Koori Knockout as a 14-year-old, Nakia's rise through the ranks has been as rapid as her runs from fullback, selected in the Women's Indigenous All Stars team in 2013 at just 16 years of age.
With her father currently in hospital in Sydney battling a number of health issues and the memory of her brother ever-present, Davis-Welsh says her national debut will be a special occasion for the entire family.
"It was really hard," Davis-Welsh of the 2009 accident that tragically claimed her brother.
"For me, sport has helped me through it. It was my way out, my way to release the stress. Sport made me feel a lot closer.
"Every game I have my wrist strapped and write his name on my wrist. He's a big part; every single game I always think of him.
"Mum and Dad definitely do enjoy [me playing] because they see a bit of him in me when I'm out there playing. I guess it also brings them joy as much as it helps me cope.
"I was just happy to be into the squad and now to actually make the squad for World Cup is a big achievement.
"They're all excited, all the family will be in Cronulla so can't wait."