Brazil captain joins Australian club as she targets NRLW history

Drew Darbyshire
Maria Graf Brazil News Images

Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Brazil captain Maria Graf has signed for a club in Australia as she aims to become the first South American player to crack the NRLW.

Fresh from captaining her country at their debut World Cup last autumn, Graf has joined Noosa Pirates in the Sunshine Coast competition.

She hopes to use her move with the Pirates a springboard to the National Women’s Rugby League.

According to writer Robert Burgin, she will be one of five Brazilian women registered to Noosa in 2023, a club which already has two male Brazilians on its books.

Graf said: “I cannot express how happy I am to take this step.

“I’m immensely grateful for everyone who helped in this process.

“I can’t wait to debut wearing Pirates colours. I’m very excited to join this team!”

Maria Graf chases her Australian dream after cancer scare

Speaking to Love Rugby League back in February, Graf 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.”

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 is a former football and volleyball player who is also a rugby union referee.

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

Click here make a donation towards Graf’s Australian dream

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