Bay's Tamati to play in NRL women's under-19 final
Hawke's Bay's first women's NRL player Courtney Tamati will dedicate Saturday's grand final match to her late aunty Lynne Mareikura.
Tamati, 18, will be the starting scrumhalf for Sydney Roosters when they take on the St George Dragons at Sydney's Leichhardt Oval from 11am on Saturday. Former MAC club rugby player, Mareikura, died at the weekend after a battle with cancer.
She was the wife of MAC stalwart Warren "Porky" Mareikura who died after a heart attack while watching the 2019 Hawke's Bay women's club rugby final at Napier's Whitmore Park between Napier Technical and Hastings Rugby and Sports.
Saturday's final will be for the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup in the nine-team under-19 NSW NRL competition. Tamati (pictured above) has done well to make the final after missing the first six weeks of the competition with a knee injury and only playing the last three matches before the final.
"Courtney had a leg brace on six weeks ago. It's a credit to the rehab work of the Roosters medical staff as well as the hard work Courtney has put in that she has made the final.
"She has done all the hard work. All we can do is support her and obviously this week is as emotional one for the family," proud Dad, former MAC and Hastings High School Old Boys premier rugby player, MAC and Omahu Huia league player and former Hawke's Bay softball rep Corey Tamati said.
Sydney Roosters qualified third for the playoffs. Last weekend they beat the Illawara Steelers 22-4 in their semifinal and the previous week Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 20-0 in their elimination final.
Hawke's Bay's first State of Origin league player, Tamati, played for the Queensland under-18 girls team against their New South Wales counterparts in June, 2019. She became the Bay's first women's NRL player last year when selected for the Sydney Roosters Indigenous Academy team which played in the Tarsha Gale Cup under-18 comp.
With her selection this week Tamati becomes the first Bay female to be selected for an NRL final. The Dragons scored a convincing win in the last clash between the two finalists.
"Courtney and prop Keilee Joseph both missed that last game. They are pretty influential figures for the Roosters and as we know ... anything can happen on finals day no matter what the code is," Corey Tamati said.
"Courtney hopes to be playing for the Roosters women within the next three years," he said.
Before shifting to Queensland six-and-a-half years ago, Tamati, played representative touch for the Hawke's Bay under-11s and club touch for Outkast Sports and Galaxy. Despite not playing club football, she was selected for the Hawke's Bay under-12 team after being spotted during a coaching visit to Flaxmere Primary.
Although she didn't play league while in Hawke's Bay, Tamati played rugby for MAC and was coached by Ihaka and Jackson Waerea.
One of five brothers and sisters in her family, Tamati, boasts sporting genes which were always going to work in her favour. Her mother, Vanessa, is an aunt of former world champion touch and former Magpies rugby player Nui Bartlett. Another former Magpie, Darryl Tamati, is among her uncles.
She is also a distant relative of Hawke's Bay's Kiwis league legend, Kevin Tamati, on her great-grandmother's side.
Tamati graduated from Mabel Park State High School in Brisbane in 2019 and earlier this year moved from Brisbane to Sydney.