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They were the emerging stars of the show who lit up the NRL Telstra Women's Premiership for the first time. 

In partnership with Therabody, NRL.com names its Therabody Young Gun team of the year.

1. Emma Tonegato (Dragons)

The joint Dally M medallist excelled in her maiden NRLW season to cap a memorable return to rugby league after an eight-year stint in the sevens program. Tonegato finished the 2021 competition with four tries in seven games and included six line breaks, three try assists, 27 tackle breaks and a 167-running metre average.

2. Leianne Tufuga (Roosters)

The young winger made the spot her own this season with two tries, 19 tackle breaks and three line breaks in her seven appearances. Tufuga never missed a minute of game time and had one of the best tackle efficiency rates (87.2%) for a winger in the competition.

3. Tiana Raftstrand-Smith (Titans)

The Maroons representative started the NRLW season in the centres, scoring the first try ever for the Titans franchise before switching to the second row for the final three games of the season. Raftstrand-Smith averaged 78 metres per game while she generated nine offloads and 13 tackle busts in six appearances.

Raftstrand-Smith scores the Titans first ever try in NRLW

4. Page McGregor (Dragons)

Dragons centre Page McGregor was an unsung hero in the Dragons backline during her rookie season. The 24-year-old finished the season with five try assists and an impressive 91.3% tackle efficiency rate to back up her strong defensive efforts.

5. Katelyn Vaha’akolo (Knights)

The Kiwi international impressed in her first season in the NRLW with an average of 92 metres per game on the wing with 44 tackles, seven tackle busts and two line breaks in five appearances. Her best game came against the Titans to almost get the side over the line in the final round.

6. Taliah Fuimaono (Dragons)

A breakout season for the Dragons five-eighth who aside from a grand final sin-binning enjoyed an overall pleasant start to her NRLW career. Fuimaono produced four try assists and 293 kick metres for the season.

7. Rachael Pearson (Dragons)

A strong season for the matured playmaker, who made an immediate impact in the NRLW. Pearson's kicking game was talked up by Dragons skipper Kezie Apps in the pre-season but for good reason. Pearson finished second behind Maddie Studdon for yardage with the boot while she kicked 12 goals in her first campaign.

8. Mya Hill-Moana (Roosters)

An underrated start to her Roosters career with the forward featuring in six games for the club in season 2021. Hill-Moana produced an average of 80 metres per game with three tackle busts and 108 tackles (91.5% tackle efficiency).

9. Jocelyn Kelleher (Roosters)

A switch to hooker in the final four rounds of the season proved a masterstroke for the Roosters utility who relished her role at nine when Olivia Higgins came off for a breather. The 22-year-old set up two tries and scored on in 2022 as she found a home in the side when they gained momentum. 

Keilee Joseph helps get the Roosters level

10. Keilee Joseph (Roosters)

A no-nonsense season from the Indigenous All Stars representative who continued her good form in the representative fixture when the NRLW came around a fortnight later. Joseph was the first Roosters junior to go from Tarsha Gale Cup into the NRLW and made an impact particularly late in their campaign. Joseph averaged 101 metres for the season and made 173 tackles.

11. Christian Pio (Eels)

A late-minute contract at Parramatta was the ideal scenario Pio, who proved tough to handle on the left edge in the final month of the regular season. Pio averaged 80 metres while scoring two tries and making 119 tackles.

Olivia Kernick gives the Roosters a late lifeline

12. Olivia Kernick (Roosters)

One of the more dominant debut seasons by this year's rookie class. Kernick was enormous for the Tricolours in their premiership-winning season with three tries, a 69-running metre average, two line breaks, two offloads and 241 tackles.

13. Destiny Brill (Titans)

Maroons livewire Destiny Brill rounds out Therabody's Young Gun Team of the Year after a strong personal season in her maiden campaign. The 18-year-old averaged 93 running metres at lock with seven offloads, 35 tackle breaks, seven offloads and 173 tackles.

 

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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