Jocephy Daniels will be the youngest player to lead the NZ Māori Wāhine Toa side when they take on the Australian Indigenous in Sydney. The Ngāpuhi and Tainui fullback has previously tasted success on the field as a captain.
The 20-year-old started playing for the Manurewa Marlins four years ago, but now Daniels finds herself as one of the key members of the NZ Māori Wahine side.
“It was an honour. I really didn't want to, but for the girls and the team, I just stepped up,” says Daniels.
Leading by example comes naturally for the fullback who lists credits her ability to communicate on the field as one of the reasons for being appointed as captain. Last year, she led Ngāti Umutahi to victory at the Māori Rugby League tournament in Rotorua.
“It's very nerve-wracking. I'm really scared, but I don't want to show the girls that because if I show them that I'm scared, then they're going to show that they're scared too.”
Kiwi Fern Honey Hireme was called in by coach Victor Heke to assist his side's preparations for February 10.
Says Hireme, “It's not every day you get involved in a New Zealand Māori Rugby League camp to come along and help join in. For me, it was a real privilege and honour to come along and support these girls because this is where I started my rugby league.”
“It's a privilege to have her, and have her knowledge and her experience in the game, giving us those little pointers before going into camp for the big game,” says Daniels.
The indigenous Australian side may be stacked with quality players, but Daniels has a squad behind her who will take the opposition.
Hireme says, “They bring a lot of mana these girls, they're not afraid, they've got heaps of mongrel here, and they're not afraid to smash their teammates.”
“We definitely take no team lightly no matter how good, how bad they are. We just [need to] focus on ourselves first before we focus on our opposition,” says Daniels.
The team will assemble for one more camp, before leaving for Australia on Waitangi Day.