If the Warriors women are seeking inspiration ahead of their clash with the Dragons at Mt Smart on Sunday afternoon, they won't have to look too far.

Centre Atawhai Tupaea has defied sporting logic to make the NRLW competition this year, just 10 months after giving birth to her second child.

She was a standout in last week's win over the Roosters, and scored the match-sealing try, but back in February Tupaea was almost ready to give up on her dream.

Tupaea was trying to prepare for the team's first trial, just three months after the birth, but started to realise the enormity of the task.


"I was still breast feeding and my son was waking up every three hours," recalled Tupaea.

"I couldn't train for the first eight weeks [after the birth]. When I think about it now, it's like 'Oh my god, what was I thinking?"

Her son Rieko was born in early November last year. After two months, Tupaea took the first tentative steps back to athlete life.

"I couldn't run, I couldn't do burpees," explained Tupaea. "I was just doing squats and deadlifts, things I could do, and went from there.

Her sister and cousin provided moral support as they worked out in her garage, but most of her relatives had reservations.

"My family thought I was crazy," said Tupaea. "And I never thought I was actually going to make it, but I had to try."

As well as regaining strength and conditioning, Tupaea had to lose weight.

"I had a food diary and I stuck to that for about three months because I knew I couldn't exercise," said Tupaea. "It was so hard. Especially being pregnant where you eat everything and anything, from burgers and chocolate, to eating none of those."


After barely four weeks of training, Tupaea faced the first Warriors' trial in mid-February.

"I had to be; No excuses, just turn up, that's all you have to do," said Tupaea. "Then I was sore for a week. The first hit up I got smashed, then got back up and carried on."

Her teammates were impressed.

"They said 'Wow, you are back; Did you even have a baby?", recalled Tupaea. "Obviously they didn't see me when I was heavily pregnant, on my couch eating ice cream."

It helped that Tupaea had great pedigree. The 30-year-old had been part of the Kiwis Ferns since 2014, when she scored a try on debut against the Jillaroos.

That game remains a career highlight, but the next few weeks could takes things to another level.

"It's amazing to be part of this team," said Tupaea. "I remember when I was a little girl, my Dad would put the telly on and we would all sit there and watch Stacey Jones. Now I am actually wearing a Warriors jersey. It's just priceless. You have no idea how proud my family is. There is no word to describe it."

The NRLW Warriors were impressive last week, absorbing pressure and defending stoutly in the first half before finishing over the top of the more fancied Roosters. Tupaea gained a team high 106 metres from 12 runs with three tackle breaks, along with 19 tackles (only one miss).

"It was very fast, physical," said Tupaea. "I enjoyed it but it was a bit of a shock to the body. It was awesome to get the right result and an amazing experience. But it was only game one, so we have to refocus."

The Warriors are out to avenge a heavy defeat to the Dragons at the same stage last year, while the St George side are coming off a 14-4 loss to defending premiers Brisbane.