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From on the outer to a grand final: Foliaki's turnaround pays off

Roosters forward Vanessa Foliaki offered a straight-up "no" when asked if she thought she'd still be part of the club this season after struggling to make an impact during last year's winless campaign.

One of seven players left remaining who featured in the inaugural NRLW grand final in 2018, Foliaki's form dipped in 2019 to coincide with the side's struggles under former coach Rick Stone.

Foliaki refused to pin the blame of her performances on some personal life struggles, which included her return to Sydney from Brisbane this year following a split with her former partner, Warriors utility back Karina Brown.

The 27-year-old turned to fitness in a bid to trim down as the women's game continued to speed up on previous years.

Foliaki leaned on Roosters teammate Simaima Taufa in a bid to drop some weight and get back to a suitable size for a forward in the ever-changing women's rugby league environment.

"Last year was a big wake-up call for me," Foliaki told

"Everyone goes through personal issues but I made it a goal of mine to come out and be fitter so I could enjoy my footy.

NRLW coaches support expansion

"I moved back to Sydney because Maims [Taufa] gave me the opportunity to play at club level with Mounties.

"Her and Daz [Mounties coach Darrin Borthwick] got me back here and said they'd support me on my journey to get me back to where I wanted to be.

"They've helped me a lot. I feel the best I've been. I don't think I've felt this good since the 2017 World Cup."

With a roster overhaul on its way under new coach Jamie Feeney, the former Jillaroo feared she would be among those cut until the Roosters coach liked what he'd seen in Foliaki's turnaround.

"It was a goal of mine but I knew if I needed to be back here I had to get fitter and find that drive again," she said.

"I'm 10 kilos lighter than this time last year and am still struggling sometimes. The game has developed, it's no secret it's got faster.

"It's come a long way from the game we used to play when forwards used to be bigger bodies.

"It's rare to see now at this level, especially through the middle. The shape I'm in this year is perfect for our game."

Hersday - grand final edition

Foliaki has been a mainstay for Feeney on the right edge ahead of Sunday's Telstra Women's Premiership grand final and will be looking to contain the likes of Tarryn Aiken and Jessika Elliston on the edge.

She said her experiences of the inaugural decider will help her prepare for this weekend's big stage event.

"In 2018 we were happy to be there because we weren't supposed to, and it was all new," she said.

"But this year we've worked really hard to get there. I thought our execution was down on the weekend, our passing between each other was poor so we need to get the simple things right.

"We know we can score points when we hold onto the ball and complete sets."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours 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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