PNG Orchids star Elsie Albert.

A plant and insect expert at home, on the road Elsie Albert is a powerful force in the PNG Orchids forward pack.

She is into the third year of study for her Bachelor of Tropical Agricultre degree from the University of Natural Resources and Environment (UNRE) in Rabaul.

"It's about how to enhance the growth and development of crops in our environment at home," Albert told NRL.com as she wandered through Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens on Wednesday for the launch of the World Cup 9s.

But don't be fooled by images of microscopes and butterfly nets. Albert, who trained as a boxer before her parents thought it was too brutal, took up rugby league in high school.

The 23-year-old, pictured above in the middle row to the far right, has become a mainstay in the Orchids pack over the past two years.

She loves two main things about the sport.

"It unites all the people back at home, and the second thing is I love the physicality about it," she said.

"Some people ask me a lot why I play a sport where I can get hurt because it is tough physically.

"But I tell them as long as you're fit and you train well, and you look after any injuries, then you don't have much to worry about."

It is more of a case of players having to manage the pain inflicted by an Albert tackle – just ask Fijian centre Tanika Marshall.

She was the player bumped a metre backwards in a wonderful ball-and-all tackle by Albert in the 44th minute of the June 22 Pacific Test at Leichhardt Oval this year.

The tackle went viral on social media and is a feature of the match highlights.

"I like to think my style is a classic sort of tackle. I'm not really worried about the comments from that tackle," Albert said.

"I just did my job as a forward – run hard, hit hard, connect and make the tackle. That's it."

Albert played Nines for PNG in last July's Pacific Games in Samoa, taking home a silver medal after losing the final to Fiji.

"It's a lung-busting game for us forwards because it's fast. But we're here to compete and we're ready," she said.

The player to watch in the Orchids side, with speed to burn, comes easily to mind for Albert.

"That would be Roswita [Kapo], our centre. She's pretty quick off the ruck. If anyone can break the line she will be the one."

Albert sees the Nines format as a vital step in the desired future for women's rugby league in PNG.

"The women's game is growing in PNG rapidly. Most of the PNG girls here for the Nines are after the same thing that I want – to see a PNG team in the NRLW.

"I hope it will happen in my time as a player and it should. I've got no plans to stop playing any time soon ... to see PNG women in the NRL ... I would love that."

The Orchids’ participation in the World Cup 9s is supported by the Australian Government through the Pacific Sports Linkages Program.

 

For ticket and travel packages for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, head to nrl.com/tickets.