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The right combo: Parker, Takairangi repay in NRLW return

They’re among the bargain buys the Knights have rolled out in their remarkable NRLW campaign this season that has helped propel the club to their first-ever grand final qualifier.

When Newcastle outside backs Shanice Parker and Kiana Takairangi reunited at the Knights this season after playing together at the Roosters in 2019, not many people looked too much into their signings.

With big name recruits Millie Boyle and Tamika Upton stealing the show, it's been their other low key signings who have quietly gone about their business to keep all players on their toes.

Both Parker and Takairangi are experienced players in the women’s game who have both either represented their state or country on the big stage.

Parker in particular has made a sensational return to the field since less than eight months after giving birth to young son Jakari.

The former NSW winger has slotted in to cover Tamika Upton for the past fortnight but will return centres this week, where she's combined well with Takairangi on the right edge.

“I’ve come back a lot sooner than expected but I’ve had a lot of support and people to look up to like Sammy Bremner and Amy Turner, those girls come back after six months,” Parker said.

Shanice Parker with young son Jakari after her return to the field earlier this season.
Shanice Parker with young son Jakari after her return to the field earlier this season. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

“Having Jakari gives me so much purpose on the field. The Knights were in contact with me for the 2021 season but then I fell pregnant.

“I did tell them quite early and they were keen to work and help get me back. They were going to support me long-term so I was really lucky.”

Takairangi’s return to the NRLW is also unique after the former Kiwi Ferns international was rubbed out of the 2021 season due to the old points cap system in place and some miscommunication between clubs.

After representing New Zealand in 2019, Takairangi cost an NRLW club eight points alone and after missing the 2020 season she struggled with limited game time to push for an NRLW contract.

"When I didn't get re-signed by the Roosters in 2020 I was waiting and hoping still but a couple of clubs assumed I had been retained so it all became a bit too late," Takairangi said. 

"The points system didn't benefit me at all at the time. We were finding a lot of girls who cost nothing via points would get signed instead so it was a little bit disappointing.

"It made me question whether I was good enough or if I deserved to be playing, especially when we had two new teams come into the competition. I just copped it on the chin and am grateful to have got the opportunity this season."

Takairangi also learned the lesson on her part and opted for a player manager for the first time - something growing in the women's game each year.

"It all happened really quickly after that, I couldn't believe it, the Knights were interested after we reached out," she said.

Takairangi takes everyone on

"When the NRLW first started the club would reach out to a player but it's definitely beginning to shift now and you should get yourself a manager."

The Knights will go into Sunday's clash against the Dragons with the mental edge after thumping them 30-8 in last weekend's regular round clash. 

However, Parker knows the semi-finals present a whole new challenge.

“I’m sure the Dragons will review that game and come out with something different," she said.

"It’s important we stick to our game cycle because I thought we did that really well and didn’t throw a whole lot at them but still put on a few points."

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