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NRLW stars Simaima Taufa, Karina Brown, Tallisha Harden and Jocelyn Kelleher have been recognised ahead of the upcoming Telstra NRL Women's Premiership with nominations for the Veronica White Medal.

The award recognises the efforts by the game's female stars to make a difference in the community while playing at the elite level, and has been won in previous NRLW seasons by Honey Hireme and Georgia Hale. 

With a similar criteria to the Ken Stephen Medal, the Veronica White Medal is named after the former Australian Women’s Rugby League president and Jillaroos international.

2020 Veronica White Medallist – Georgia Hale

White was a driving force behind the establishment of the women's Inter-State Competition, which has now evolved into State of Origin, and the Jillaroos team to represent Australia.

Taufa, who will captain Parramatta's inaugural NRLW team in Sunday's opening round clash with Newcastle has previously been nominated for the Veronica White Medal in 2019 and 2019.

The star forward is joined by Jillaroos stars Brown, who has joined fellow NRLW newcomers, the Gold Coast Titans, and Harden - a three-times premiership winner with the Broncos.

Roosters back Kelleher is the fourth nominee. 

New medal to be named after league legend

"The NRL is dedicated to recognising and celebrating the incredible contribution NRLW players make to the community," NRL acting Head of Participation, Pathways and Community Andrew Every said.

"Rugby league has the unique power to unite the community, especially during challenging times like the past few years with COVID-19 and natural disasters. Even with a disrupted 2021 NRLW season, these nominees were still able to make a positive difference in their communities.

"Whether it is Tallisha making regular trips to her hometown of Woodridge to mentor girls within the local club, Jocelyn giving up her own time to attend numerous youth events, Karina’s passion for inclusivity, volunteering her own time to support Wear it Purple, a LGBTQI+ charity or Simaima regularly giving back to rugby league clubs in Tonga.

"I want to thank all four Veronica White Medal nominees for their tremendous efforts in using their platform to give back to the community. They are a reflection of the many NRLW players who do so.

"I want to encourage all fans and the rugby league community to read about the incredible work of each nominee and to vote today."

Fans can vote for the four Veronica White Medal nominees for the chance to win $3,500 for their junior rugby league club or favourite charity.

Simaima Taufa – Parramatta Eels

2017 Dally M and 2018 RLPA International Player of the year award winner, Simaima Taufa makes a significant impact on the field and within the community.

Eels captain Simaima Taufa is a three-time nominee for the Veronica White Medal
Eels captain Simaima Taufa is a three-time nominee for the Veronica White Medal ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

At grassroots level, Simaima gives her own time to the Penrith Emu Plains JRLFC, setting up sheds, washing jerseys, distributing supplies and supporting players on Game Day.

In her prestigious role as Western Sydney NRL Ambassador and Premier’s Sporting Challenge Ambassador, Simaima is passionately involved in numerous club programs. She has delivered the NRL League Stars program across Sydney and has extensively travelled to rural regions of NSW to promote and deliver Rugby League development programs.

Internationally, Simaima has made a significant impact in Tonga, launching and promoting the Voice Against Violence program in 2018 in a bid to address and reduce incidences of family violence. To support Rugby League development in Tonga, Simaima regularly donates Rugby League playing kits to youth clubs.

As the inaugural captain of the Parramatta Eels NRLW team,  Simaina is always among the first to volunteer and partake in any club community events, Simaima leads by example.

Karina Brown – Gold Coast Titans

For Karina Brown, wearing the Gold Coast Titans jersey is a privilege. Always among the first to volunteer in the community, Karina leads by example. 

Brown excited to represent her home

Karina understands the importance of giving back to her community. Local junior clubs greatly benefit from regular visits by Karina. She eagerly attends Open Days, assisting the female teams and mentoring young players.

Travelling for hours each week, in her own time, Karina ensures she is regularly cheering, mentoring and supporting young female players at their games.

Karina’s passion for inclusivity, in and out of the game of Rugby League, has driven her interest in advocating for LBNTQI+ issues. Karina volunteers her own time to support Wear it Purple, a LGBTQI+ charity.

Inspiring women to reach for the stars, Karina wrote and released a song titled ‘She’s Got Confidence’.  Many young, female Rugby League players featured in the accompanying video clip to the song, to inspire young females to follow their dreams and play Rugby League.

Not having the opportunity to play Rugby League in her youth, Karina has a true passion to inspire females to play the game they love. Although, a true role model in the community, Karina seeks to serve in a humble manner.

Tallisha Harden – Brisbane Broncos

Tallisha Harden is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman, a leader on and off the field, who has proudly represented her club, state and country. Tallisha uses her public profile to inspire girls and women.

Timely reward for hard-working Harden

A star of the game, Tallisha also works as a speech pathologist, improving communication for individuals in the community. With club commitments and a busy career, Tallisha is never too busy to use her profile to help the community.

She is a passionate leader of the Beyond the Broncos program – improving school attendance and Year 12 attainment rates  for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Tallisha’s work in the community extends well beyond club expectations. Regular trips to her hometown of Woodridge allow Tallisha to give back to her local community. Inspiring girls to join Rugby League and mentoring girls within the local club, Tallisha has been recognised as a ‘Woodridge Local Legend’.

Tallisha’s positive attitude and determination ensure she aims to be the best she can be, inspiring others to reach their full potential too.

Jocelyn Kelleher – Sydney Roosters

Wearing her tri-colours with pride, Jocelyn Kelleher proudly gives back to the youth in her community-  beyond her club commitments.

Jocelyn Kelleher has been nominated for the Veronica White Medal for her work with the Mark Hughes Foundation
Jocelyn Kelleher has been nominated for the Veronica White Medal for her work with the Mark Hughes Foundation ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Selfless and dedicated are two words used to describe Jocelyn as she leads community programs for the club while juggling a NRLW career, tertiary study and work.

Jocelyn teaches and inspires youth about health and wellbeing, and promotes participation in Rugby League through the Roosters Central Coast School Blitz.

Visiting numerous schools and positively impacting hundreds of students, Jocelyn uses her profile and her time to inspire students to live a healthy lifestyle.

Jocelyn is an enthusiastic participant in all the club’s community-based initiatives. Giving up her own time to attend numerous youth events, such as, Ourimbah League Tag, Broken Bay Secondary Sports Association Girls Rugby League is common practise for Jocelyn.

She  eagerly ran training sessions with the female participants and presented the team jerseys at these community events. Her involvement in the club’s Girls Get Active Day is another example of Jocelyn’s commitment and enthusiasm to inspire youth to live a healthy lifestyle, through Rugby League.

On the field, in the community or in schools, Jocelyn represents the NRL’s core beliefs of inclusivity, positivity and unity.

 

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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