Warriors Women's centre Hilda Mariu is the ultimate late bloomer.

She didn't play league until the age of 19 and her initial forays into the sport were strictly social. But Mariu has since represented her country, played at a World Cup and won domestic titles. Now she's part of the first female Warriors side, with the NRL Women's premiership kicking off in early September.

"It's all starting to sink in now," said Mariu. "It's like, wow, this is really happening. It's history in the making and I get to be a part of this. Hopefully we are paving the way for the young ones coming through."

Mariu is in Sydney for media and photo opportunities this weekend with players from the other teams (Broncos, Dragons and Roosters).


To make the competition even more special, Mariu will be playing alongside younger sister Kahurangi Peters, while another sibling, Rona Peters, is in the Broncos squad.

"It gives me goose bumps. I'm very proud to be playing with one sister and against another sister. It's the pinnacle, knowing that history will be made and it's amazing to have my family involved."

Although she came from a league family, there weren't many options when Mariu was growing up in the early 1990s.

"There wasn't much league," said Mariu. "There was mainly netball around, so Mum made me play netball. Later, my sisters started playing [league] when my Mum and Dad were coaches.

"Finally, when I was 19, I thought I'll give it a go, and after that, I was definitely hooked. But my sisters were lucky because they started playing when they were little."

Mariu made more history after receiving her moko kauae last weekend.

"To be honest, it was something I wanted to do for me, so I didn't even think about the whole first time thing.

"I was brought up in a Māori world," said Mariu, who is fluent in Te Reo, like her sisters. "With the moko, I've always seen it around. Growing up, you do kapa haka and they draw the moko on your face ... I've always known it to be a part of who I am."

"This year, I thought I'm ready to get my moko.

"It's part of my whakapapa, or my genealogy, and it's an acknowledgement of who I truly am."

Mariu said the hour-long procedure wasn't as physically challenging as she expected.

"It wasn't painful at all," said Mariu. "It would probably hurt a lot more getting smashed in a game of league."