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Rookie watch: Remember the name Autumn-Rain

Ahead of the rescheduled NRL Telstra Women's Premiership, NRL.com profiles the next crop of talent ready to make their mark in 2022.

Rookie snapshot

  • Name: Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly
  • Age: 25
  • Club: Knights
  • Position: Five-eighth

Newcastle rookie Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly gets asked the same question all the time.

With one of the more unique names in rugby league, the fresh-faced rookie from New Zealand offers a grin when asked if there is any meaning behind her name.

"People always ask if was I born in Autumn and if it was raining and I laugh because it was actually in winter and not raining," Stephens-Daly tells NRL.com.

"Originally my dad just wanted to call me Rain but mum said no. When I was born she was watching TV in the hospital and on the news there was the topic of autism being discussed.

"She got the idea of Autumn from there and my dad said we'll call her Autumn-Rain and they agreed on that.

"My last name is just both my parents' surnames so it is a bit random. It's not usually what people expect when I tell them."

Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly and Katelyn Vaha'akolo warm up at Knights training.
Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly and Katelyn Vaha'akolo warm up at Knights training. ©Knights Digital

Stephens-Daly may have to get used to telling people her story more often with the former New Zealand rugby sevens player one of the most exciting rookies to watch in 2022.

Born in Rotorua, the 25-year-old is among a rare group of players who have represented their country before an NRLW club after she starred for the Kiwi Ferns on debut in 2020.

"I was in Japan contracted for sevens but a couple of years earlier my uncle asked me to play in a national Maori tournament," Stephens-Daly said.

"I didn't know the rules of rugby league but really enjoyed it so last year was the first time I had a lot of time dedicated to the code.

"I want to have a good crack at everything now with the All Stars, NRLW and World Cup at the end of the year."

Stephens-Daly arrives at Newcastle alongside eight of her Kiwi Ferns teammates for the club's inaugural campaign including possible halves partner Charntay Poko.

After starting her short journey in the game as a winger or fullback, Stephens-Daly wants to continue to build on her craft as a playmaker.

"There are a lot more skills I need to learn in the halves but it's been a good learning curve, I'm enjoying that position," she said.

"It feels like I've jumped from the bottom to the top playing for New Zealand but with the NRLW it's a seven-week competition so that will test the kind of player I am.

NRLW 2021: Where power meets passion

"I'm just looking forward to playing for the Knights, they've looked after us, from when we were there during the pandemic to now.

"I want to give back to the club by playing my best."

Stephens-Daly was named in an extended New Zealand Maori All Stars squad last year and remains in the mix for a debut on February 12.

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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