It was some simple words of encouragement from her partner and former NRL player, Aaron Gray, that made Tiana Penitani try her hand at Rugby League but it wasn’t long before her natural talent took over and propelled her on the road to stardom.
Penitani, who scored a try for Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in their 28-14 win over Wentworthville Magpies in the opening round of the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership last weekend, was a gifted athlete as a child having enjoyed Rugby League, Rugby Union and athletics.
She was a chance to represent Australia in the Rugby World 7s at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio before injury derailed her chances which left her lacking motivation before Gray told her in 2019 to give Rugby League a go which reignited her passion for sport.
“I’m so happy with the decision that I made to play Rugby League,” Penitani told On her Game with Sam Squiers earlier this year. “I didn’t know that I would like it as much as I have.
“It definitely has ignited something in me once again. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for me in Rugby League.”
Penitani signed up for the Sharks last year in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership and by the end of 2019 had also played for the NSW Women’s Origin team that successfully defended the Shield, played for St George Illawarra in the NRLW and won an end of season Test with the Jillaroos.