PNG Orchids captain Elsie Albert is hoping to create more rugby league history in 2020.
A finalist for the 2019 International Rugby League Women's Golden Boot Award, the 24-year-old from Pangia was part of the first Pacific Island women's team to receive equal pay at the Rugby League World Cup Nines in October and led her country to their first test match win against England a month later.
Now she has made the move to Brisbane after signing a contract to play for the Souths Logan Magpies, a feeder club to the Brisbane Broncos, making her the first local PNG-based women to secure an Australian rugby league deal with hopes to play the sport she loves at the highest possible level.
Pawar Meris alert Great to see these 4 @PNGOrchids adorning the South Logan Magpies jersey for the 2020 season!!! More on our Orchids Captain Elsie's big move this week as she makes history as the 1st local Orchid export #PNG #rugbyleague #womeninleague pic.twitter.com/ugSakuRU3u— PNG Rugby Football League (@PNGRFL_Official) February 16, 2020
"For a Papua New Guinean woman and coming from a background where gender-based violence is prevalent and all this to excel in a male dominant sport and excel in that area is an honour," she said.
"For me to come straight from PNG and a PNGRFL export straight into coming to Australia to play, it's big back home."
"It means a lot to me but not only to me but it means alot to all the PNG-based women back home."
Albert's rugby league journey began in 2017 when she transitioned from being an off-field supporter to representing the Niugini Islands (NGI) in 2018. She quickly secured her spot in the PNG Orchids nation team, and was made captain in 2019.
But it was her performance in the Orchids first test match win which prompted her phone to ring.
Elsie Albert was at her damaging best against England! pic.twitter.com/L6kMJ2EC8l— Women's Rugby League (@WRugbyLeague) November 17, 2019
"I think I started making a name for myself for putting up those big hits," she quipped.
"After that game I received phone calls from Australia and eventually I selected Souths [Logan Magpies rugby league club] and [decided] to stay with them this season."
The Brisbane-based club has a healthy number of Papua New Guinea representatives with team-mates Amelia Kuk, Therese Aiton and De La Cruz also contracted to the club.
Albert said their support has provided the cultural support she's needed to settle into the country.
"I have my PNG sisters playing with me here," she said.
"To have them and to play against the ladies that I've played with before, I think I just like the feeling of being with more familiar faces and that sort of pushed me to come to the Magpies...it's definitely made the transition to Brisbane much easier."
Albert said the presence of so many Orchids players at the Magpies was helping to showcase the talent that PNG women had to offer.
While she has only been in the country for a month, Albert is hoping to be named in the starting line-up for Souths Logans's season-opening QRL Women's Premiership clash against Tweed Heads Seagulls on 15 March.
But she insisted she would not be forgetting where she came from.
"I will definitely and gladly play for the Orchids whenever any international opportunities come up," she said.
"That is my home and playing for the Orchids will always be special for me."
Albert described herself as a proud PNG woman who was pioneering a new path for all women and she hoped her journey would inspire other young girls and women of PNG to chase their dreams no matter the obstacle.
"I want to inspire young girls back home to show them that you can do all things like you can still get an education and play sport if that's what you choose.
"To be able to get a contract and to come here to play rugby league, it's exciting times ahead for the female folks back home."