Rapana deep end helps Gray get to NRLW grand final
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Rapana deep end helps Gray get to NRLW grand final

It's fair to say Tazmin Gray was thrown in the deep end as a youngster.

One of 10 siblings, she was about the same age as her brothers, including Canberra Raiders and New Zealand gun winger Jordan Rapana.

So it's not surprising she'll run out for the Sydney Roosters in the second-row in the inaugural NRL Women's grand final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

Tazmin Gray was "thrown in the deep end" - growing up play footy against her brother and Raiders winger Jordan Rapana.

Tazmin Gray was "thrown in the deep end" - growing up play footy against her brother and Raiders winger Jordan Rapana.Credit:AAP Image/Craig Golding

"There's a bit of a big age gap between her and the next youngest, she just kind of got thrown in the deep end with all of us boys," Rapana said.

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"Every time we played footy around home or play any sort of sport she kind of had to make up that even number.

"So she got thrown in the deep end very quickly. I think it toughened her up. She learnt a lot from it."

Rapana won't be there to watch Gray play. Instead he'll be on the Gold Coast with the rest of his big family watching on the television.

But he was there when she played for Queensland in State of Origin this year, and he also saw her play her first NRLW game a few weeks ago.

While Rapana was born in New Zealand, Gray was born in Queensland - although she did a lot of her growing up across the ditch.

"Growing up with 10 siblings and six of them being boys a majority of them play rugby or rugby league," Gray said.

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"We've always had a ball in hand and because I'm the only girl between all the boys I sort of got thrown in and haven't looked back since. I had no choice really."

She played rugby league in juniors against the boys until she was too old, but she had to wait until a senior team formed on the Gold Coast.

Then she got married and had two kids, Velarn and Kyan, before returning to the game in time for the most exciting year in women's football.

In an interesting twist, Gray's still living on the Gold Coast and flies down every week to play.

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The 23-year-old will face the team physically closest to her, the Broncos, in the grand final.

She's been training on her own with a coach early in the week, before flying down about Thursday for the weekend's game.

Her husband Anthony and two kids then come down for the weekend, before heading back up north on Monday.

"Because some of us live in Queensland, some of us live down here and some of us don't even play together so we've had to look at the combinations to get us to gel," Gray said.

"It was a bit hard in the first few weeks and it didn't work out at the start, but we started to get it right at the back end and we're slowly progressing.

"Hopefully we come together this weekend and we're able to play some quality footy."

NRL WOMEN'S GRAND FINAL

Sunday: Brisbane Broncos v Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium, 1.35pm. Live on Channel Nine.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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