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While most rugby league players have a section of their wardrobe dedicated to old jerseys, Eels forward Christian Pio has found another use for her collection that keeps her connected to home.

The 22-year-old Samoan product from is a pioneer of the evolving NRLW pathways system, earning her first rugby league jersey for the St Clair Comets at 15. 

As she came through the ranks, so too did the number of jerseys she owned, prompting her to decide what was next with them.

"Mum was always asking me what I wanted to do with all my jerseys, so I decided to send them back to my family in Samoa," Pio told

"I know that they’re always watching and supporting me from back home so I know how much it means for to them to have a few jerseys.

“When I see photos of my family back in the village, I’ll see one of my cousins running around in the background with a St Marys jumper on or something and it makes me feel really good.

“I feel like I’m representing Samoa and my family no matter what jersey I have on in Australia.”

Pio was introduced to the code through Dragons five-eighth Taliah Fuimaono, who also grew up in Sydney's west. 

From there she's gone through the Tarsha Gale Cup system with Penrith and stints at St Marys and the Wests Tigers before landing at the Eels this year.

Pio capitalises on Roosters napping

"There was a lot of talk about women’s rugby league when I was around that 16-17 age but I was usually that person to say I’m happy playing volleyball or basketball or whatever was easiest,” Pio said. 

"The following year they introduced the first year of the Tarsha Gale Cup and my coach encouraged me to keep playing, I realised that I was actually pretty good at it [rugby league] so I thought why not.”

Seven years on, now donning the blue and gold jersey, Pio is one of Dean Widders' most dangerous ball runners after making her NRLW debut in March.

The Eels will go into Sunday’s NRLW semi-finals clash as underdogs against the Roosters but for Pio and star fullback Gayle Broughton, their confidence levels are sky-high after reaching the play-offs.

Parramatta suffered a heavy loss against the Roosters in Round 1 in August but since tweaking their halves combination the following week they’ve improved in all areas of the game.

“A lot of people thought we’d fold over and lose [last week] but the conversations are we may as throw everything into it and enjoy it,” Broughton said.

“I feel like the girls have built game by game. We dropped our standards against the Titans but some things happen for a reason. It was a wake-up call.

“I’ve never been to Suncorp Stadium so I’m excited to play there and for another opportunity to run out with these girls.

“The Roosters have been amazing the whole season but you never know what can happen on the day.”

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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