The Best Start


The job of putting together the Canberra Raiders NRLW team has begun, and they’ve started in the very best way: by announcing the signing of star lock Simaima Taufa (first reported by David Polkinghorne of The Canberra Times). This is now confirmed by the club.

The recruitment of Taufa has to be considered as substantial for the Raiders as any of their history. Taufa isn’t just an excellent player. She’s unequivocally one of the best in the competition. She’s played origin in every year since 2016, cracked 100 metres on the ground in every single origin game she’s played. She’s won world cups (multiple). She’s played in grand finals (multiple). She’s won Dally M player of the year (2017) played more than 20 games of NRLW, and established herself already as a legend of the game. She’s a barnstroming runner, in possession of incredible power matched with an agility that mean that the next time you see her taken down one-on-one will be the first. Add to that some of the most brutal defence allowed on a rugby league field, and you’ve got quite a player.

But more than just being good, she’s been a touchstone of those sides for many years, and proven herself amongst the very best in the competition. Taufa represents what we’d been hoping for all along. An elite player and a standard bearer to show emerging players and a burgeoning development pathway “this is the way”. She’s as proven as they come.

She’s also a leader. Where we wondered if Millie Boyle would carry on the legacy of David Grant, the Raiders have found an even more perfect person to do so. She’s even performed a similar role as a mentor for the City origin side in 2022, providing advice and guidance to other emerging stars. In her speech after losing the grand final last season, she gave more a call to arms than a commiseration speech, showing more than just leadership, but an understanding of the importance she, and this generation, of NRLW players will play in driving the wider growth of the greatest game of them all. I couldn’t think of a better person to lead the Raiders.

The Raiders are getting Taufa still in her prime. She averaged a Tapine-esque 160 plus metres, 60 plus post contact metres, 3.5 tackle breaks, a game last season. She happily made more than 40 tackles in a game on three separate occasions (an incredible effort for a middle forward), and dragged a fledgling Parramatta side to the grand final. When the Jillaroos were thumping New Zealand in the World Cup final in November, Taufa started at lock.

One cannot overstate this. This is a foundational signing by the Milk. Whereas previously it had seemed that they would have to build only from the ground up, having to wait years for their labour to bear fruit, they now have the capacity to develop their pathways and build a competitve top-line squad. This will reinforce their pathways, providing guidance and hope to young players looking to walk the same trail as big names like Taufa.

Canberra now have a star, a leader, and a hero to build around. This is the best start possible.

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