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Rookie watch: Pearson's journey earns high Apps praise

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: Rachael Pearson
  • Age: 28
  • Club: Dragons
  • Position: Halfback

It's not often Kezie Apps predicts big things for a player yet to make their NRLW debut but her excitement levels for Rachael Pearson are sky-high.

Like Apps, who grew up in Bega, Pearson is from the regional town of Hay, three hours west of Wagga Wagga and has travelled countless hours and thousands of kilometres to play sport.

From soccer to AFL to league tag, the 28-year-old has tried it all.

"Hay is very secluded but a massive sporting town," Pearson said.

"You're playing sport at school, out of school, but you had to be willing to travel.

"The closest away games are about 90 minutes away. You got used to being committed to travel to play."

NRLW Dragons assemble in the Red V

A broken foot suffered playing league tag in 2017 bizarrely convinced Pearson she was ready for her next challenge, this time stepping up into rugby league.

The Dragons playmaker was nursing her injury when she saw the likes of Kezie Apps, Jess Sergis and Sam Bremner in a game on TV.

"I thought 'I want to play tackle and give it a go'," Pearson said. 

"I'm at the age where I'm like give it a go or it's too late. My brother lived in Wollongong so I did some research and found Helensburgh.

"Which was crazy because while it was probably one of the closest clubs to play for ... Kezie, Jess and Sammy were there too."

Dragons recruit Rachael Pearson made her NSW Country debut in 2021.
Dragons recruit Rachael Pearson made her NSW Country debut in 2021. ©Bryden Sharp/NSWRL

After three years playing in local competitions and the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership, Pearson arrives at the Dragons with plenty of promise.

Her best asset is her kicking game, with Apps rating it among the best the NRLW will have to offer in 2022.

"I lost count how many times it saved us last year playing for Helensburgh," Apps said.

"With the right people around her like Sowie [Dragons coach Jamie Soward], he will do wonders for her.

"I rated her as soon as she came along. She's a great talker and isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves. I think she'll gain a lot more confidence the more she plays."

A junior background in soccer and her father's background in AFL has helped develop Pearson into a long-range metre-eating machine with the boot.

"I've always kicked a ball, my dad played AFL so taught me from a young age to kick ... he's my biggest supporter and travels to all my games, no matter how far away," Pearson said.

Soward pleased after finalising NRLW squad

"And then through soccer, I got a lot of the timing with striking the ball.

"I know it's a different shape ball and along the ground but it helps with goal-kicking, just like taking corner kicks.

"Hopefully I can bring some metres with my kicking and add that in the game a bit more. It's amazing what an extra 10 metres can do."

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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