North Sydney's Aliti Nomace is enjoying the ride of her life as she re-engages with Rugby League and finds herself with her first representative jumper as part of the NSW City Origin team for the 2019 Harvey Norman Women's Championships.
The four-day tournament kicks off on Thursday at Pizzey Park in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and 21-year-old Nomace is making her debut for City.
Coach Steve Kelly has named nine debutants in his 17-woman squad for NSW City's opening game against Combined Affiliated States (CAS) on Thursday.
And one of the new faces is Nomace, who will line-up in the front row with fellow prop Eli Walton (Canterbury) and hooker Karla Cowan (Cronulla).
"It was a big factor for us this year to start looking at the new girls coming through," Kelly told nswrl.com.
"The Harvey Norman competition in Sydney has really provided a great platform for this team, because they're playing quality football week-in week-out.
"And these girls have forced their way into the squad from performing so well at club level."
Nomace played rugby league at Seven Hills High School in Years 7 and 8 but when it came to staying with the sport when she graduated, there were not many opportunities open to her.
"I wanted to continue with it but there didn't seem a smooth path for me, so I kind of gave up – until now," she said.
"I've also put on a bit more weight so it's the forward for me. I used to be in the backline at school."
In between, Nomace took up competitive powerlifting but suffered a few injuries so when a mutual friend from the Bears contacted her about rugby league for the 2019 season, she jumped.
"I was thinking about Windsor Wolves,” Nomace said.
“I hadn't played since high school so I thought it would be better to get into a club in the Harvey Norman competition. So that's why I joined the Bears.
"So, it's been challenging mentally to do all this in one season. I don't know if I've really stopped to soak it all in but I'm just enjoying being back.
"I love playing this sport and the other stuff that comes with it is great. You get to travel and meet new people and learn so much."
Kelly said his team was ready for CAS – kick-off at 12pm.
"The girls are from all over Australia,” Kelly said.
“So, it's a big mix of talent, but one thing I do know about them is that they're not going away. They will keep coming at us.
"But we're ready. If we stick to our structures, we'll be right."
NSW Women's City Origin: 1 Botille Vette-Welsh (Wests Tigers), 2 Tiana Takairangi (Cronulla), 3 Corbin McGregor (Cronulla) 4 Riana Penitani (Cronulla), 5 Kate Mullaly (Cronulla), 6 Quincy Dodd (Cronulla), 7 Maddie Studdon (Cronulla), 8 Eli Walton (Canterbury), 9 Karla Cowan (Cronulla), 10 Aliti Namoce, 11 Shaylee Bent (Mounties), 12 Sarah Togatuki (Mounties), 13 Aaliyah Faamausili (Wentworthville). Interchange: 14 Tommaya Kelly-Sines (Mounties), 15 Christian Pio (St Marys), 16 Christine Pauli (Mounties), 17 Najvada George (Wests Tigers). 18th player: Montana Fonua (Mounties)