Women’s – Hawaiki Roa Shine & Dominate Tournament Team

Well Hawaiki Roa finally got the job done and took home their first Fuel to Go & Play NRL WA Harmony Cup title, over a gallant underdog Vaine Tumanava (Cook Islands) side, winning the final 14-4. In what was a great tournament for the Cook Island ladies, who were a great story this year, they fell to a star powered Roa team who were into their third final in a row.

And although there were many players who could be picked in both sides from all the women’s teams the votes and opinions have been tallied and would like to present the fuel to Go & Play NRL WA Harmony Cup 5 women’s team of the tournament.

The women’s side, is a brilliant mix of speed, strength and skill, and is a testament to the balance we have between veteran talent and amazing young players coming through the game here in WA.

  1. Claudia Foster – Hawaiki Roa – Maori (C)
    Captain of the winning team this year, Claudia knows how hard it is to actually win one of these. While the Men from Roa have tasted success multiple times, this is Claudia’s third grand final, and she finally comes away a winner. Conspicuously missing from the Harmony 4 team of the tournament, she has come back with a vengeance, controlling the team with aplomb in the middle of the field with strong carriers and uncompromising defence. The new age skillful forward.
  2. Nicole Ledington – Hawaiki Roa – Maori – 2nd Selection
    A second time entry after making team of the year cup, “Cole” was a unanimous selection in team of tournament. Fast, skillful and blessed with brilliant footwork, she constantly made players miss and was crucial to Hawaiki Roa’s title run this year. A quiet and no nonsense player, he rugby league IQ is off the charts, and it just begs the question. Can she be persuaded to play the 13 man game full time? A fantastic footballer with a huge future.
  3. Macey Simpkins – Vaine Tumanava – Cook Islands
    The Cook Islands got to the grand final on the back of superb team play. But every army needs a general. And Simpkins simply exploded on the weekend. With devastating pace, and a passing game that would put players to shame, she threw herself into the fray at the front of the Vaine charge. And while she was lauded for her exploits with the football, her work on the defensive side of the ball cannot be understated. Always putting herself in a position to be counted.
  4. Kailey Thompson – Pikiao Warriors – Maori – 2nd Selection
    For a community as big as the Pikiao crew was, they needed a lightning rod in the Women’s division to turn this team of maybes into a battle hardened side. And Thompson provided that and more. Scoring and setting up tries aplenty for the black and whites, Thompson put the Warriors on a run that had them destined for a crack at the title in Harmony Cup 5. And she put them on her back in the semi final against the Cook Islands, only to come up short. A true on-field general.
  5. Sera Ah-Sam – RLSWA – Samoa
    Leadership qualities are hard to define, and even harder to find. But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone as well respected as a leader, player and person than the quietly spoken and humble Sera Ah-Sam. The proud Samoan forward is a fantastic ambassador for Women’s sport in general. And on the field, everyone would agree, she is a scary proposition. Big, fast and uncompromising, she gets through tonnes of work, and scores tries for fun.
  6. Aisha Wigley – RLSWA – Samoa – 2nd Selection
    Another young prodigy, Wigley possesses a veteran mindset at such a youthful time in her life. With incredible off the mark speed and pace over the first 40 metres, her stop-start left multiple defenders clutching at thin air as she stood up for the proud Samoan community over the weekend. With a tough draw and no excuses given, she continued to show up for the RLSWA and put her small frame on the line continually over the weekend.
  7. Tiana Graham – Hawaiki Roa – Maori
    While her form has been below her best in 2021 after reaching some brilliant heights in previous years, Graham seems like she has finally settled into herself as a player. Although she is fast, with a full skillset and dynamic footwork, her real strength is her tackle breaking ability. Players need to commit fully to tackling her, as she has an innate ability to just shed defenders or offload the ball. A real asset to the Roa run, she beats out a couple of team mates for a third slot in the team.
  8. Shiane Kani – Pikiao Warriors – Maori
    “The Beast in the Pink Headgear”. Exceptionally strong and much quicker than she looks, Kani possesses probably the most devastating fend in rugby league in Western Australia. Sending people on their way with a helping hand is her specialty and she rocked and rumbled her way to a semi final debut, and her supporters cheering her all the way. You could tell when Pikiao Women’s were on the field as the ten thousand supports were on their feet every time Shiane touched the ball.
  9. Melissa Thomas – Indigenous
    In a competition dominated by the big four semi final teams, one name kept popping up in the heads of selectors. And she is very well known in Rugby League circles. “She just seems to always be there” always accompanied the reports and a Thomas is the bolter for our team of the tournament. Strong and fast, Melissa seemed a rejuvenated player in 2021 and dominated at all levels, and her strong performances for a plucky Indigenous side is something to be proud of.

Coach – Morgan Leef – Vaine Tumanava – Cook Islands
With a competition that contained the star power of Hawaiki Roa, RLSWA and the Pikiao Warriors new recruits, for the Cook Islands to reach the final is a huge achievement. A former power in our competition, the Cook Islands community rallied around their ladies team this year and they went within a whisker of winning a title on the back of Morgan’s steady nurturing approach. A great servant to his community, he sent his charges against the best this year and was a super proud coach at the end, and vowed to be back next time.

Congratulations to all the above, but this list could have been 40 players long. Well done to all who did partake in the weekend, and looking forward to another huge Harmony Cup 6.