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How culture and footy shaped new Eel

Ahead of the rescheduled NRL Telstra Women's Premiership, NRL.com profiles the next crop of talent ready to make their mark in 2022.

Rookie snapshot

  • Name: Jocephy Daniels
  • Age: 24
  • NRLW club: Eels
  • Position: Centre

Parramatta recruit Jocephy Daniels was just hours away from signing with the Dragons for their inaugural season in 2018 when she received unexpected news that would change her life forever. 

The disability support worker was about to agree to terms with the Dragons after impressing for Mounties in the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership before finding out she was nine weeks pregnant with her first child on the same day.

It capped a monumental year for the New Zealand-born centre, who moved to Australia months earlier in a bid to escape a rough upbringing in South Auckland.

"I grew up in poverty with a single mum and my brother," said Daniels, who has been chosen in an extended Maori squad for the February 12 All Stars fixture at CommBank Stadium.

"I was making a lot of wrong choices like drinking every weekend and missing school. I didn't care and would blame my childhood on all of my future actions."

Daniels crosses for double in City win

Daniels turned to two things that got her back on track; her culture and league tag.

"I was small and skinny so wasn't too interested in rugby league but tag kept me out of trouble," she said.

"I also started learning about my Maori cultural background and got into my Kapa haka."

Daniels travelled to Canada and Hawaii through a cultural school program to showcase their heritage and cultural Polynesian identity through song and dance.

"It was amazing and opened my eyes that there are other things out there in the world," she said.

"I just took a step back and thought I don't want to go down a bad path anymore. I want a career and to be a role model to my family."

Maori women's haka

Daniels moved to western Sydney when her partner at the time signed with Mounties.

She played a full year in the state competition before the Dragons showed interest.

"It was bittersweet because that was one of my dreams, but then it was a blessing in disguise, I had a beautiful son," she said.

"It put my priorities in check and I put a pause on everything."

After two years of trying to get back to suitable fitness and performance levels, Daniels is ready to make her mark as one of 13 possible debutantes in the Eels' NRLW squad.

Along with a standout return season for Mounties, Daniels scored two tries for NSW City in 2021 to remind selectors of her potential.

"You know when you're present but not listening properly when someone is talking to you? That's how I felt when I got the call from the Eels," Daniels said.

"I got emotional, I'm a very emotional person. My heart was full of gratefulness that I had been noticed again and the hard work was paying off.

An unreal year for Women's rugby league awaits

"I talk a lot but at that moment I was speechless. I'm expecting a different type of level of challenges."

Daniels also has her eye on earning a Maori All Stars debut on February 12 after recently being picked in the extended squad.

"I'm really knowledgeable about the Maori culture so want to help share that with the Australian-based girls to give them other perspectives," she said.

 

The Indigenous All Stars v  Māori All Stars women's match kicks off at 5.20pm, Saturday February 12 at CommBank Stadium. The Indigenous All Stars v Māori All Stars kicks off at 8.10pm.

Go to tickets.nrl.com/allstars

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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