Papali'is to make history as NRL's first mum and son playing combo

Papali'is to make history as NRL's first mum and son playing combo

It goes without saying the mantra of train hard, play hard applies with Warriors forward Isaiah Papali'i and he has a couple of parents to thank for it – none more so than mum, Lorina Papali'i.

While a usual weekly catch up between mother and son often includes coffee or dinner, the 19-year-old prefers to bond over a sweaty gym session with the person who has played a monumental part in raising him.

Papali'i spent his childhood watching Lorina, a former Kiwi Ferns representative, play rugby league, before his parents opened a gym in Avondale focused around strength and CrossFit training.

At 41, Lorina is on the comeback trail after retiring from the game in 2010, selected in the extended train-on Warriors squad and eyeing a chance to feature the inaugural NRL Holden Women's Premiership in September just as Isaiah's career begins to blossom.

"She's right down into the business end of it now, a lot of hard work going from her day job to night trainings but she's enjoying the challenge of chasing an NRL dream," Isaiah told NRL.com.

"We do eat a lot together too and look into diet – train hard and eat hard. It's definitely exciting, but I'm not surprised she's going well. She's always been committed to putting everything into it.

"It's a unique bond and I really cherish it, not a traditional relationship with your parent everyone is used to."

The Warriors are expected to announce their entire 22-player squad for the women's competition after the free agent deadline expires on July 31.

If Lorina can make the final cut, the pair will be the first mother-son combination in rugby league history to represent one club.

"That would be very cool and something we can look back on in years to come, I know how much she is pushing for it to happen," Papali'i said.

"She's helped me a lot like all mothers, been the backbone and offered good support to see me reach the NRL.

"It was definitely a goal for me to play at the highest level after watching her play, I saw the fun and enjoyment she was having growing up.

"Both parents are pushing me to train all the time. They're both awesome role models for me as a professional rugby league player, just having that consistent drive to train and perform."

Young Warriors forward Isaiah Papali'i.
Young Warriors forward Isaiah Papali'i. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Isaiah expected his mum's age to be no barrier with her life centred around fitness. She would be the second oldest player in the competition to date if picked, behind 42-year-old Sydney Roosters signing Kylie Hilder.

"She is probably fitter than most of the women in the competition, especially the forwards," he said.

"I think she plays a lot like me, same sort of game play. And she's short and stocky. I'm following in her footsteps for sure, definitely not the other way around ... she's done it all."