Ahead of the rescheduled NRL Telstra Women's Premiership, NRL.com profiles the next crop of talent ready to make their mark in 2022.
- Name: Chantelle Graham
- Age: 26
- NRLW club: Knights
- Position: Lock
Knights rookie Chantelle Graham is a self-confessed nervous wreck when it comes to rugby league given she's yet to experience a full season at any level of the game.
So when a random number appeared on her phone while she was about to get her COVID-19 vaccination, the Newcastle local couldn't believe it when the person on the other end was Knights coach Casey Bromilow.
"He wanted to offer me an NRLW contract but wasn't sure where I was at because I'm a little bit older and sometimes girls don't have the aspirations," Graham told NRL.com.
However, Bromilow need not worry, with Graham's enthusiasm to develop outweighing her inexperience in the game.
"I never played rugby league when I was younger but I'm good friends with the Glanville's so Marc's daughter started dragging me to OzTag and touch football when we were in high school," Graham said.
Graham discusses NSWRL's Country women's player of the year award
"There was an inaugural Nines competition a few years ago and from there I got picked up for the Country Championships team with Newcastle.
"It wasn't until I started playing for Souths Newcastle this year that I intended to play a full year of rugby league, but even that got cut short as well."
Although she won't admit it herself, Graham has impressed in her brief time taking on the contact side of the game and more recently attended the Brad Fittler medal to accept the Country women's player of the year award.
Her next steps are to join the Knights for pre-season training in January and work on her development as a middle forward following stints in the backline and back row.
"When we had a couple of weeks training before the postponement that was pretty nerve-racking, I had no idea what I was walking into," Graham said.
"I'm an anxious person so I was questioning myself. But once I met the girls I felt so much more comfortable and I'm excited to see what's going to happen.
"I've always gone for the Knights, you've always got to support the local team.
"My goal is to get trained up in the middle at lock but I'm otherwise just going to enjoy the experience whether I get a game or not, I'm so grateful for the opportunity."
Bromilow to coach Knights for inaugural NRLW season
Knights centre Bobbi Law was in a similiar position to Graham when the pair started playing rugby league together at CRL Newcastle in 2018.
"Chantelle is a little goer, a bit quiet but on the field she's aggressive with no fear. That's what I love about her," Law said.
"She'll kill it if she gets the opportunity. I think there are a few local girls in our squad who are capable of making the next step up and I'm really excited for them."