Former Kiwi Fern Lorina Papali'i – mother of teenage Warriors forward Isaiah – described her selection in the club's inaugural NRL women's premiership side as a "dream come true".

The 41-year-old's inclusion in the 22-strong squad sees the Warriors create rugby league history with a mother and son representing one club at the same time.

Isaiah has this year cemented himself as a starting second-rower in just his second season of first grade, while Lorina's signing comes after she came out of retirement to realise a "once in a lifetime opportunity".

"I'm honoured and privileged to be named in the squad," said Papali'i.


"It means a lot to me. I dreamed of it but didn't think it would ever happen.

"It's still quite unreal to me at the moment and only just sunk in last night."

Having previously played at World Cups with New Zealand and Samoa in the 15-a-side game, Lorina retired from a 16-year playing career in 2010.

But when word began to spread of the potential opportunity to play in a women's NRL premiership, the Richmond veteran set her heart on following her son into the toughest league competition in the world.

"I heard they were building an NRL women's competition but thought it would only be in Australia," she said.

"To have it in New Zealand as well is amazing. It's going to create pathways for many girls to come and for me it's to represent the past, the present, and to pave the way for the current generation.

"It's going to be a great challenge. We've got a good squad. I've played with and against some of the girls and it's a great team."

Papali'i will provide the Warriors with invaluable experience along with Kiwi Ferns captain Laura Mariu and a fellow veteran international Sarina Clark.

The Herald understands Mariu will be formally announced as the side's captain next week ahead of their first trial hit-out against Newcastle at Mt Smart on August 10.

The Warriors will play NRL women's premiership matches against Brisbane, St George Illawarra and the Sydney Roosters during the NRL finals in September.

Coach Luisa Avaiki is thrilled with the quality of her squad and excited about what their place in the NRL women's premiership will mean for the growth of the female game locally.

Competition for spots will be high with 18 players current or former Kiwi Ferns. The four members yet to represent New Zealand have all been included in a wider 2018 national squad named by new Kiwi Ferns coach Kelvin Wright.

"We have some legends of our game in the likes of Laura and Sarina who are backed up by some fantastic players," she said.

"This is a dream for all of us to be involved in the NRL women's premiership and we're all working hard to make the most of what is an amazing opportunity for rugby league."

Papali'i is looking forward to taking the field at Mt Smart next week in the curtain-raiser clash, before Isaiah runs out for the Warriors NRL match against the Knights.

"That we could both wear our jerseys on the same night and a photo [will be a thrill]. But it would be a proud moment for us as a family."

Warriors general manager of football Brian Smith described the announcement of the women's team as an exciting day for the club and the national game.

"We were thrilled to bring Luisa (Avaiki) on board as the first women's coach in the NRL and today we take another step forward with the announcement of our squad comprising solely New Zealand players," said Smith.

"We have a group of talented players who are just so excited about being involved in this shot at history."

Raquel Anderson-Pitman
Sarina Clark
Lisa Edwards
Luisa Gago
Georgia Hale
Amber Kani
Onjeurlina Leiataua
Hilda Mariu
Laura Mariu
Va'anessa Molia-Fraser
Apii Nicholls
Tanika-Jazz Noble-Bell
Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala
Lorina Papali'i
Kahurangi Peters
Krystal Rota
Aieshaleigh Smalley
Masuisuimatamaalii (Sui) Tauasa-Pauaraisa
Crystal Tamarua
Alice Vailea
Langi Veainu
Shontelle Woodman