Hard work and determination is paying off for Tarsha Gale captain Keilee Joseph in 2020, who worked her way through to the NRLW development squad for their run to the Grand Final this season.
Keilee's journey to a first grade debut is on the verge of being fulfilled as she pushes to become the first Roosters Women's player to line-up in the Tarsha Gale Sydney Roosters Indigenous Academy squad and the Central Coast Roosters in the NSW Harvey Norman competition on route to the NRLW.
In order to understand just how significant an achievement this is, we'd have to take you back to an 11 year old from Queensland with a dream of playing on the biggest stage in rugby league.
She kicked off her playing career with the Waterford Rugby League Club, which would be just the starting point to an impressive resume so far in her young career.
In 2016 Keilee was selected in the inaugural QLD Academy Of Sport Women’s Rugby League Under 15s squad, followed by a 2018 selection into the QAS Under 18s Squad.
Keilee knew she wanted to take her game to the next level in 2019 and when she found out about the Tarsha Gale competition she was eager to see how she'd fare.
If you put in the hard work, you can do anything.Keilee Joseph
The Sydney Roosters Indigenous Academy presented itself in her search for an elite competition, and the journey to the Club was officially underway.
“My Mum found information about it on the Roosters website, so I jumped on a plane for the trial to see how I’d go and ended up making the squad," Keilee said.
“Travelling back and forth from home every week was pretty hard, I felt like I was always on an airplane.
“It can’t have been that bad though cause I came back and did it again this year.
“Just having that pathway from Tarsha Gale to the Roosters is amazing, that’s what will keep me coming back year after year.”
Keilee would go on to captain the Roosters Tarsha Gale team in 2020, donning the nickname "The Motivator" which is a testament to her work ethic on the field and training paddock.
Her impressive form and work ethic in the Tarsha Gale would see her called up to the Central Coast Roosters squad for the re-vamped NSW Harvey Norman competition in 2020, the second stepping stone on the pathway towards the NRLW.
With a shortened Tarsha Gale and Harvey Norman competition, Keilee would get an opportunity to dip her toes in both competitions in the same year.
“It was a big step to Central Coast Roosters and I was a bit nervous, but as soon as I got out there I was loving it.
“Strangey (Coach John Strange) was a huge help, he gave me lots of pointers to improve my game.
“The girls were so nice, they looked after me on and off the field.”
The Central Coast Roosters went on to win the 2020 NSW competition with Keilee starting the Grand Final in the front row.
She would receive the call-up to join the development squad for the NRLW, which started immediately after the Central Coast Roosters concluded their season.
The time she spent with the NRLW squad was invaluable and the likely final stage to stepping onto the field for the Roosters in the NRLW competition.
“This has always been the dream, since I was playing rugby league back home when I was 11.
“To even be training with these girls now is just an honour.”
Due to the Tarsha Gale competition being cut short in 2020, Keilee is set to re-join the Indigenous Academy squad again in 2021 before heading to the Central Coast Roosters for their NSW Harvey Norman Premiership defence.
Should the stars align for Keilee Joseph, there could be an NRLW debut on the cards to complete the Roosters Women's pathway to playing first grade rugby league.
“If you put in the hard work, you can do anything.
“I just love playing the game, and nothing was ever going to stop me from playing.”