26 April 2023

Riverina proud! Raiders sign pair for inaugural NRLW squad

| Jarryd Rowley
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Ua Ravu and Elise Smith

Local talents Ua Ravu and Elise Smith have been offered contracts to join the inaugural Canberra Raiders NRLW squad. Photo: Supplied.

The Canberra Raiders have signed Riverina pair Ua Ravu and Elise Smith as a part of their inaugural NRLW squad for the upcoming 2023 season.

Ravu (Leeton) and Smith (Junee) were offered contracts with the Raiders following a six-week stint at The Katrina Fanning Shield Academy earlier this year.

Ravu, 26, represented the Papua New Guinea Orchids at the 2021 World Cup while Smith recently won the 2022 premiership with the Yass Magpies.

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It will be the first NRLW contract for both players as they push for match selection as part of the Canberra Raiders’ first ever NRLW squad.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’m still getting all the emotions and there’ll still be more to come but it feels really good; it’s very exciting and I’m looking forward to it,” Ravu said.

“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing so I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”

Raiders’ NRLW coach Darrin Borthwick said he was eager to see Ravu don the green jersey and provide her skills to the Raiders squad.

“She was obviously rewarded with some good form here in the local KFS comp with her Papua New Guinea representation at the World Cup,” he said.

“I’m really happy to have Ua here. We talk about fitting the mould of being a good person but being a good player as well that’s what I’m most excited about with Ua. I can’t wait for her to get here and fulfil the dream she’s had for a long time of playing for the Canberra Raiders.”

Ravu currently works as a game development officer for the NRL out of Griffith.

Elise Smith, 29, has represented numerous Riverina-based representative teams while also having a highly regarded background in rugby union.

“I’ve been blessed and I’m just so grateful to be able to put this green shirt on, it means so much to me. I’m so happy and excited for the journey,” Smith said.

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“It’s so surreal, it’s honestly a dream. You watch those NRLW girls and you aspire to be like them or you look up to them and it’s honestly going to be so crazy to train with them.

“I’m so excited to learn from them and take the field with them.”

Borthwick believes that Smith’s experience will be of great benefit to the inaugural squad and that during the clinics held at the beginning of the year, Smith was a clear standout.

“Elise is a local, she’s very excited about the prospect of playing for the Raiders now because she’s now seen that pathway and she’s been rewarded with a contract as well and I can’t wait for her to rip in,” he said.

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