Energetic winger Taylor-Adeline Mapusua has had to take the long, hard road to Bondi, but there is plenty of motivation that is fuelling her return to the NRLW in the Red, White and Blue.
Born in Sydney and raised in the sleepy beach suburb of Maroubra, Mapusua’s family moved to Queensland at the age of twelve - which saw her fulfil an active childhood filled with athletics, netball and basketball before transitioning to Rugby Sevens.
After competing in the Commonwealth Youth Games, Mapusua quickly found herself in the Brisbane Broncos NRLW squad - and while injuries have at times hampered the promising young winger’s career, the self-confessed ball of energy says she is loving her return to Sydney.
“Brisbane is home for me, but I love Sydney. It’s great to be back and I’m looking forward to being here. It’s really exciting,” Mapusua said.
I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and I’ve been training like there’s no tomorrow because I know I’m ready for this.Taylor-Adeline Mapusua Sydney Roosters NRLW Recruit
“My cousin Sarah Togatuki is in the team, we represented Samoa together so I’m really looking forward to playing with her.
“Before going into Rugby League I always looked at how well Jess Sergis and Isabelle Kelly were going, and I’m looking forward to learning from them. They’ve got experience and it helps them also being outside backs.
“I’m looking forward to training with some of the best and to be able to learn as much as I can from them. I’m excited to train alongside all of the girls.”
Although lengthy stints on the sidelines with Lisfranc and PCL injuries kept her out of action, the setbacks have only made the flames of desire burn even brighter for the 23-year-old.
After looking to take time out from the game to concentrate on her career as a personal trainer, a move to the Valleys Diehards in Queensland’s BHP Premiership propelled her to a breakout season in 2021.
Scoring seven tries in eight appearances in an injury-free season not only saw the pocket dynamo guide the Diehards to the Grand Final – it culminated in another chance to play in the NRLW under Head Coach John Strange.
Most importantly, however, it’s an opportunity for Mapusua to play for her father – her inspiration for playing the game.
“After I had another injury I thought about taking the year off and focus on studies and work, and to then go back the following year,” she said.
“Going into the BHP season I had three goals – the first was to better myself as a player and learn as much as I could. My second was to play consistent footy and my third was to gain an NRLW contract.
“I remember closing up the gym and getting the call from Strangey. I was just in shock. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.
Before going into Rugby League I always looked at how well Jess Sergis and Isabelle Kelly were going, and I’m looking forward to learning from them. They’ve got experience and it helps them also being outside backs.Taylor-Adeline Mapusua On Training with NRLW Teammates
“I got really emotional and I remember telling my dad straight away. He is very supportive – my whole family are – but he’s the reason I play Rugby League. I really wanted to get this contract for him because he is very sick at the moment.
“He comes to all my games, but because he was in and out of hospital he wasn’t able to come to the majority of them last year. As soon as I got that phone call, I rang him and visited him in hospital straight away.
“He was over the moon. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and I’ve been training like there’s no tomorrow because I know I’m ready for this.
“Ever since it’s been training, working and trying to eat well. I’m extremely excited.”
For the dynamic winger, a year with two NRLW competitions, a Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership, State of Origin and a World Cup can’t come soon enough – so much so that she has found herself trawling through match highlights in anticipation for the season ahead.
Roosters Members and supporters can also expect to see Mapusua's bubbly personality and high work ethic on the flanks, something that she hopes to add to an exciting backline already filled with plenty of strikepower.
“I want to bring excitement to the side, a bit of energy and I want to bring that positive vibe to the team,” Mapusua beamed.
“Every time I step out on the field at training, it’s all I’ve been thinking about. Even when things haven’t been going well, it’s what I’ve been focussing on.
“I’ve been watching highlights of both the NRL and NRLW before I go to sleep. That’s how excited I am. I can’t explain it.
“It’s been so long since I’ve been able to play a game and train with a team. I’m looking forward to that first and then everything else that’s to come.
“There are so many boxes I want to tick off. I know it would be a dream to make the England World Cup side and represent mum’s side of the family. That’s definitely a goal for me.
“I can’t wait to put my footy boots on and get moving.”