Brazil captain sets sights on Australia move after cancer scare

Drew Darbyshire
Maria Graf Brazil News Images

Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Maria Graf has bravely opened up on being diagnosed with cancer on the eve of Brazil’s World Cup debut and her dream of playing in Australia.

The half-back played a starring role last year for the Amazonas, who became the first South American nation to compete at a Rugby League World Cup.

But just two days before the tournament began, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She has since had removal surgery.

“Two days before the trip to the last training camp and World Cup I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, two malignant tumours,” Graf told Love Rugby League.

“It was a scare, but nothing to be afraid of. So now, I had the total removal surgery and I do hormone replacement, a normal life.”

From Brazil to Australia: The dream of Maria Graf

The Santa Catarina-born playmaker only came across rugby league five years ago. And after experiencing life England during the World Cup, she know wants to chase her dream on playing on the other side of the world in Australia.

“I’m going to Australia not only to play rugby, but to help in the development of the sport in Brazil in several ways,” Graf added. “Whether it’s taking techniques and tactics from the game, or helping more girls to do this exchange.

“Personally, I want to return to high performance sports as an athlete. And I want to then develop a professional career in the coaching staff, as a coach, physical trainer or manager, always thinking about the development of the sport in Brazil.”

Covering the costs

Graf, a former football and volleyball player who is also a rugby union referee, hasn’t spoken to any NRLW clubs yet but is hopeful of making the move Down Under this year.

“I haven’t spoken to any NRLW clubs about the move, I prefer things to happen naturally,” she added.

“Of course, informal and superficial contacts, but nothing concrete. It would be a beautiful opportunity, but all in time, still a lot to learn.”

Graf is one of several Brazil players who have set their sights on a move to Australia. She is currently awaiting confirmation of her visa and is raising funds to assist her move.

Graf has set up a fundraising page to help her cover flight, visa and study costs, while also finding accommodation and money for living expenses.

Graf’s removal surgery delayed her decision to go to Australia. But she has made up her mind and is very keen to chase her dream of playing Down Under in 2023.

Click here make a donation towards Graf’s Australian dream

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