The Canberra Raiders have announced the first three signings for the club’s inaugural NRLW season.
Jillaroos Simaima Taufa and Zahara Temara join Monalisa Soliola as the club’s first official signings ahead of the 2023 NRLW season, which kicks off in July.
Taufa brings with her a wealth of experience in the women’s game, being one of the premier players in the game for close to a decade.
The 2017 Dally M Medallist has won two World Cups with the Australian Jillaroos in 2017 and 2021 and has been a mainstay in both the Jillaroos and NSW Origin teams since 2014.
She has played in all five NRLW seasons since the competition’s inception in 2018, spending the first three years at the Roosters and the last two seasons at the Eels.
Taufa has also started working for the club in Football Operations.
The 28-year-old said she’s enjoying her time at the club in a working capacity and can’t wait to take to the field later in the year.
“It’s really exciting to be here, it’s so surreal. To be a part of the first ever NRLW team for the Raiders it’s an honour in itself to be chosen to be a part of the club and part of the team,” Taufa said.
“It’s just really exciting to be a part of a club that really gets behind their women’s program and every program they are associated with.”
Taufa: It’s an honour
“To have an inaugural team that creates many opportunities and pathways for every young female player is pretty exciting to be a part of.
“I’m hoping we can leave a legacy where every Canberra girl that wants to play for this club and do this region proud and I’m really excited to take the field and be part of a team that’s ready to represent the state and the community.”
Temara joins the club following five seasons with the Sydney Roosters, including being part of their 2021 NRLW Premiership win.
The 25-year-old represented the Jillaroos at the 2017 World Cup and the 2017 and 2018 Test Matches against New Zealand, as well as the New Zealand Māori All Stars on four occasions.
Temara has also played four games for the Queensland Maroons, as well as being the 18th player in 2022.
Temara: I’m very excited to be a part of it
Temara is looking forward to the new opportunity and relocating to Canberra in time for pre-season.
“I know the Raiders are a proud club and a family club and I’m excited to be a part of that,” Temara said.
Soliola is a forward on the rise, coming off the back of a breakout year in 2022.
The 18-year-old played her first NRLW season with the Dragons in 2022 and earlier that year played for the NSW Under 19’s team.
Monalisa’s father Bill is first cousins with club legend Sia Soliola, who played 137 games for the Raiders and now works in the club’s wellbeing and education department.
Monalisa is excited for the opportunity to join the club and for a new challenge.
“As of right now it feels so unreal with the move and the whole situation,” Soliola said.
Soliola: Hopefully I get to leave my mark on this club
“Playing the previous year in the NRLW’s second season, the desire of wanting to play out of my comfort zone yet feeling welcomed and challenged by a club is exactly what I feel from the Canberra Raiders.
“I’m more than excited to get down there and hit the ground running.”
Raiders NRLW coach Darrin Borthwick said he’s excited to finally have the opportunity to announce players in the lead up to the club’s inaugural season.
“It’s massive, now that we can finally talk about these girls, it’s been a long process. I’m really excited for the three girls that have committed here, they are good players and they are good people,” Borthwick said.
“It’s really exciting for the community that we now know who is coming here and we can start to get really excited about the NRLW season.”
Borthwick is full of praise for his three new recruits and can’t wait to start working with them when the NRLW pre-season kicks off in late May.
“Simaima obviously plays at the highest level with the Jillaroos, she’s also played Origin for a long time. Not only is she a good player, she’s a great person off the field. Her leadership qualities are something that for an inaugural team will be very valuable for us,” Borthwick said.
“Monalisa is a young player coming through, she’s very skilful. She’s a good person as well, that’s part of the criteria for this team that we are building is that we have good quality people and they happen to be good players as well.”
“Zahara is similar to Simaima, probably just a bit quieter on the way she does things. She’s a good player and she’s created some good leadership qualities over the years as well, so that’s something I’ll be looking forward to what Zahara can bring to us. She’ll be good for us on and off the field as well.”