Rep jerseys motivate Davis-Welsh to return to the top

Whenever doubt lingered in Nakia Davis-Welsh's mind about returning to the rugby league field, it was always overshadowed by her desire to regain the All Stars, Blues and Jillaroos jerseys.

After giving birth to her first child, Steven, in April, a return for the NRLW was out of the question but the NSW Koori Knockout on the long weekend in October was a realistic comeback for the 23-year-old.

Despite being unsure if she was ready to return to the field Davis-Welsh suited up for her mob, Bellbrook Dunghutti Connections, for her first game back in over 12 months.

After helping lead her team to the women's Knockout grand final, Davis-Welsh was rewarded for her stellar return by reclaiming a spot in the Indigenous All Stars squad that met for their first camp in Sydney over the weekend.

"Before I had baby, the goal I set for myself to return was actually All Stars 2020 – being eligible to make that team," Davis-Welsh said.

"Of course, that was pending how I recovered from giving birth – I was never going to rush that process but I was determined to get back out on the field with everything happening in the women's game.

"Then I had son and there were so many thoughts of self-doubt. It's so easy to mentally talk yourself out of it – thinking, I can't do this, I'm not ready and then there's the pressure of performing once you do come back.

"Physically my road to recovery was tougher than I had ever imagined – having a caesarean had a big impact with my body needing time to heal.

"My son was all the motivation I needed to return to playing though, and I still have high aspirations of running out in an Origin and Jillaroos jersey again and finally getting my shot at the NRLW."

Two weeks out from the Koori Knockout was when Davis-Welsh decided she was going to lace up the boots again and stay on track for her All Stars goal.

"I just said 'stuff it, I'm going to have to try sooner or later'," Davis-Welsh said.

"It was probably the best decision I made because I missed it, I was really missing being out on the field.

"There could have been no better place for me to come back and play then at the Knockout – playing with and for my mob, with my dad [Paul] coaching alongside Aunty Caryl Jarrett [Former Jillaroos player].

"It felt so good to be back – any doubt I had quickly went out the window. I really did shock myself because there were times when I really didn't think I could do it, but playing gave me a lot of confidence knowing that I'm on track of reaching my goal of being a part of All Stars again."

From the Koori Knockout a squad of 40 was picked to attend last weekend's All Stars selection camp, with the official team that is yet to be announced to reconvene on January 18 and 19 for their final training camp.

"I was more nervous than anything going into the weekend," Davis-Welsh said.

"Yes I'd already played my first game back at the knockout but this was now a step up to representative footy.

"On top of that the talent among the squad was the best I've ever seen it, with so many young girls coming through – which is so exciting."

Click here to secure your seats for the 2020 Harvey Norman All Stars, when the Australian Indigenous teams take on the New Zealand Maori's.