NRL powerhouse the Sydney Roosters will intensify its search for elite talent in a Queensland district which has supplied the likes of Josh Papalii, Cameron Smith and Destiny Brill (NRLW) to the NRL.

Mabel Park SHS will have access to Roosters’ coaches who will fly to the Logan school for skills’ sessions, while also inviting some players back to Sydney for training sessions at the club.

News comes on top of Mabel Park SHS alumni pair Keilee Joseph (Jillaroos) and Alumina Otesa Pule (New Zealand) being named for their rugby league international debuts at the World Cup in England. More on that story below.

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“Our partnership with the Roosters will provide pathways for some of our students to join the under 19 Tasha Gale Cup (in Sydney) while still completing school,’’ said Mabel Park SHS’s Chace Carey, Head of Program, Girls Rugby Excellence

“This will hopefully lead to NRLW opportunities similar to what Keilee (Joseph) has achieved.’’

Sydney Roosters head of pathways and New South Wales women’s under 19 coach, Blake Cavallaro, said the club’s link with Mabel Park SHS was stronger than ever.

“We have had a really good partnership over the last few years, upskilling the girls and coaches and giving them a chance to be a part of our elite environment in Sydney,’’ Cavallaro said.

“We are starting to get some girls to come through and be a part of our system.

“There are a lot of girls playing rugby league in this area and we want to give them a chance of playing in our system at the elite level.’’

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The Roosters have Mabel Park SHS year 11 student Alex Leapai, Joseph and Pule on their books from the school and the search is on for more NRL or NRLW potential talent.

Leapai, a prop, made our Langer Trophy Team of the Year while Joseph and Pule were now internationals from the Roosters NRLW squad.

Middle forward Joseph (Roosters) has been a trailblazer for young women aspiring to play in the NRLW.

When the competition was in its infancy, and with no promises from the Roosters, Joseph would fly to Sydney each weekend, stay with family and friends, and train and trial for the Roosters junior teams before getting a start.

She then had to prove she was good enough to earn and NRLW top contract, which she did.

Now she is a premiership player (2021) and Jillaroo, playing with the best of the best – a self made sporting woman who has set the highest example to her community back in Logan.

“I had hoped I’d play well enough during the 2022 Telstra NRLW season to push my case for selection, but with the depth of talent this season I know the selectors would not have an easy time selecting the final squad,’’ Joseph said.

“It was a great relief and honour to be told I had made the World Cup squad.

“I am fortunate to have a village supporting me, there are so many people to thank who’ve assisted me to get to where I am today.

“It was my goal this year to make the Jillaroos and to be able to say I’ve accomplished that, there is no better feeling.’’

Joseph thanked her employer, Borger Crane Hire, who allow her to work around her training and playing commitments in Sydney.

A rigger and dogger in the crane industry, Joseph said she was “extremely lucky to work with such an amazing, supportive employer’’ in an era when payments to NRLW players was still evolving.

Indeed several members of the Jillaroos, including gun players Millie Boyle and Tamika Upton, were unable to make the trip to the World Cup.

Mabel Park SHS’s other player on the tour alongside Joseph’s was Alumina Otesa Pule.

The Caboolture Snakes junior finished her school at Mabel Park SHS, such was the reputation of its rugby league finishing school.

She was a powerful back rower for the Roosters who was able to consistently cross the line.

Meanwhile, Keilee’s younger sister, Shaylee, was a member of the historic Australian schoolgirls which recently toured Fiji.

Jillaroos squad: Kezie Apps (co-captain), Sammy Bremner (co-captain), Ali Brigginshaw (co-captain), Tarryn Aiken, Lauren Brown, Jaime Chapman, Kennedy Cherrington, Shenae Ciesiolka, Yasmin Clydsdale, Keeley Davis, Taliah Fuimaono, Tallisha Harden, Caitlan Johnston, Keilee Joseph, Isabelle Kelly, Olivia Kernick, Shannon Mato, Evania Pelite, Julia Robinson, Jess Sergis, Simaima Taufa, Holli Wheeler

Originally published as Sydney Roosters forge ties with Queensland school

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