When they went to put together an NRL roster the Dragons were desperate to sign Corrimal star Keeley Davis – problem was they couldn’t.
Coach Daniel Lacey certainly wasn’t about to let his Steelers Tarsha Gale Cup skipper slip through the net but, at 17, she was too young to sign the contract.
Thankfully, her 18th birthday fell just in time to ink the the deal that will make her the youngest player in action when the Women’s NRL Premiership kicks off next weekend.
She scored 132 points for the Steelers this season she also proved a surprise packet in Country’s national championships triumph earlier this year, with many tipping her as a future Jillaroo.
“It’s really exciting to see what could happen with Keeley,” Lacey said.
“She was in our initial Tarsha Gale system and went through to captaining the side and being the leading-try-scorer and captaining the side again this season.
“Everything you throw at her she accepts the challenge and she’s a super sponge with everything we do. I’m aware she’s done really well at Tarsha Gale and she’s earned the right to play NRL, but I’m also aware of the things she can and can’t do.
“She’ll be one we’re putting into this system with no pressure on what she needs to accomplish, she’s just turned 18 so she’s very young but someone you just wouldn’t leave out of this team.”
She’s just got this natural talent, she’s really strong and she reads the game really well, especially for someone so young.
Marquee star Kezie Apps agrees, having regularly gone up against her Country teammate in the Illawarra League.
“Playing against her you always know it’s going to be a tough game,” Apps said.
“She’s just got this natural talent, she’s really strong and she reads the game really well, especially for someone so young.”
Not bad for someone who only converted to the game with the Steelers two years ago.
“It’s absolutely amazing knowing the pathway works, I’m proof of that, and seeing the hard work paying off is really exciting,” Davis said.
“As soon as I played my first game in Tarsha Gale I knew this is what I wanted to do. Within the first game I gave up all my other sports just to focus on footy.
“Playing in the NRL was a goal I had but I thought it’d be a long-term goal. This year I just wanted to play as well as I could in Tarsha Gale and whatever came from that I’d be happy. Now I’m extremely happy.”
It’s been a meteoric rise but Davis said the privilege of signing her first NRL contract as a teenager really hits home when she dons a Corrimal jumper in a side full of Illawarra League pioneers, as she will do in Saturday’s grand final clash with Helensburgh.
“It’s always in the back of my mind, how grateful I am,” Davis said.
“Not just the professional girls, at club level so many have played for years and years getting smashed every week and working so hard without any recognition.
“I don’t think I’ll ever understand playing footy like that and how it’s been in the past so I’m really grateful for the path the girls before me have laid out for us.”