Campbelltown Harlequins trio eye off NSW Waratahs W selection

Three Macarthur women are proving they have talent to burn on the rugby union field and hope to inspire young girls to play the sport.

Campbelltown Harlequins trio Atasi Lafai, Jemima Henry, and Mahalia Murphy have been driving forces behind the club’s women’s IV team over the past few years.

Now, the good friends are all vying for spots in the state’s premier women’s rugby side.

Lafai, Henry and Murphy were all recently named in the 2019 NSW Waratahs W train-on squad, which will be trimmed to a finalised list of 30 players in mid-December.

Lafai said it was nice to have Henry and Murphy’s support as they aimed to get selected together.

"We have a strong bond and a lot of love for each other," the 24-year-old said.

“It's nice to go into a new team with some familiar faces around you.

“It means so much representing Campbelltown together."

Mahalia Murphy, Jemima Henry and Atasi Lafai. Picture: Chris Lane

Mahalia Murphy, Jemima Henry and Atasi Lafai. Picture: Chris Lane

2018 has been a big year for Lafai.

The outside centre was picked in the inaugural NSW Waratahs W team and went on to represent Australia in three Tests.

Lafai, whose brother Tim plays for NRL club St George-Illawarra Dragons, said she learnt a lot from playing for her state this year.

"The Super W is a great pathway for girls to be chosen for the national squad and showcase their skills,” she said.

We have a strong bond and a lot of love for each other.

Atasi Lafai

Henry, 19, hopes to gain Waratahs W selection after reaching the train-on squad stage this year.

“There are other players in my position alone with so much talent and more experience than me,” she said.

“The top players make the squad for the whole [2019] season. If you make the cut, you’re in for the year.”

Henry, who plays in the second row, said she had always been interested in rugby union.

"My Dad [Glenn] played rugby for Campbelltown so I was always destined to play here too," she said.

Conversely, Murphy never held a long-term interest in rugby league.

Murphy said she only played her first rugby union game about two years ago.

"My older sister was playing and the team was a player short one day so I filled in on the wing,” she said.

“I had no idea about the rules, but I scored a try and it gave me confidence."

Murphy, 24, has reached the Waratahs train-on squad for the first time.

However, the fullback has already represented Australia in the rugby sevens format.

Murphy said she would proudly represent Campbelltown if picked for the Waratahs.

It's good for the girls from Campbelltown to show you can come from anywhere to play for the Waratahs,” she said.

“There are opportunities to get into the team, no matter where you come from."

Jemima Henry, Mahalia Murphy and Atasi Lafai pretend to pack a scrum together. Picture: Chris Lane

Jemima Henry, Mahalia Murphy and Atasi Lafai pretend to pack a scrum together. Picture: Chris Lane