They used to play against each other in Western Australia but now Mikayla Kidd and Tiana Graham are on the same side in the Harvey Norman NSW women’s Under-18s Origin team.
And these two teenagers have made an extraordinary sacrifice to play rugby league – try moving 4,000km away from their parents, family and friends.
“Definitely a lot of hesitation, especially moving on my own as well and not having anyone with me, or knowing any family here at all,” said New Zealand-born Mikayla Kidd.
The 18-year-old moved to Australia when she was two years-old.
“I’ve lived my whole life in Perth but decided to move to Sydney to play league,” Kidd said.
“There was some hesitation there but my parents also knew I wanted to follow my dreams. They’ve supported me throughout it all. And that I’m very happy,” she said, adding that she had not seen her mother in more than a year.
“I left in January last year, so it’s been a while.”
Graham, 17, said although it was a fairly major decision to pack her bags and move east – a 41-hour car drive – it was necessary.
“There’s Rugby League in Perth but here you have more opportunities to explore your options, to make bigger-profile teams, play the game on a larger stage over here,” Graham said.
“My parents weren’t real keen at first but they wanted to do anything to help me with my career in league. It’s hard but I know it’s been worth it.”
And now Kidd and Graham play for the same team in Tarsha Gale Cup competition, the Illawarra Steelers.
This week they are playing alongside each other as members of the Harvey
Norman NSW Women’s Under-18s Origin team – the best players the state for their age group.
“Success has come quicker than it would have if we stayed in Perth,” Graham said.
Kidd added: “We have learnt so much over here, had so many more opportunities. We’ve had better coaching, better advice, mostly because the competition is more advanced here.”
Although climbing to the top of the NSW Under-18s tree, Kidd and Graham are far from done.
They have their eyes on a NRLW contract one day, and after training alongside the likes of Maddie Studdon, Isabelle Kelly, Corban McGregor and Kezie Apps with the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s State of Origin team, they now want that too.
“That’s our goal. We’ve started down that path and we’ve got no intention of leaving it,” Kidd said.
Having probably set some kind of distance record in terms of trying to get into a representative team, Kidd and Graham now create history as part of the NSW v Queensland Under-18s match at North Sydney Oval on Friday June 21. It is the first time an Origin game has been held in this age group, and will be the curtain-raiser to the Holden Women’s State of Origin game.