NRLW 2024: Why Parramatta Eels star Mahalia Murphy knocked back a Super Rugby Women’s contract

Cross-code Parramatta star Mahalia Murphy knocked back a Super W contract this year to concentrate on getting her fitness right for the upcoming NRLW season.

The 30-year-old dual international has just signed a two-year contract extension with the Eels, which will keep her at the club until the end of 2025.

Her commitment has paid off, and she’s lost seven kilograms in the past seven weeks as she prepares for a big season with the Eels, starting with the Indigenous All Stars next weekend.

“I’ve been training with a personal trainer three times a week,” she says.

“I wanted someone outside my family and football circle, someone I didn’t know to help me stay accountable.

“I was 87 kgs a week before Christmas, I’m currently at 80.

“I’ve cut out all carbs, rice, pasta, noodles and bread.

“It was a very sad Christmas, I went to Woolies and got a BBQ chook and a salad.

“Even for my 30th, my friend arranged a nice dinner with pizza and pasta, but I ordered some salad and salmon.

“I want to play All Stars fit, and from then I want to maintain fitness for the year ahead.”

On Thursday Murphy was named in the All Stars squad for the first time since 2015 with the game to be played in Townsville on February 16.

Without a state competition to play before the NRLW season rolls around mid-year, she toyed with the idea of playing a Super W season like a handful of other players just to stay match fit.

However, the juggle of her role as an Aboriginal consultant for Wesley Mission with training would have been a massive work load.

“I was asked to play Super W this year,” she says.

“I wanted to play, and I was thinking it would get me game fit and contact ready, but other commitments that I have, having a good crack at All Stars, work, it’s a lot.

“My job is quite serious, I work in child protection, and the times I’m starting and finishing, I had to negotiate this last year for Eels training so it was going to be difficult.

“I wanted to play Super W but I have to prioritise work and that way I only have to negotiate around one code. I wanted to get my body right too.

“Last year’s NRLW season I didn’t play at my fittest, I played ok but I felt heavy, but I wanted to get back into shape and feel good physically and be in better shape when it comes around to NRLW.”

Murphy is one of the most experienced players in the Eels side for 2024 but after a miserable season last year the standards have ramped up across the club.

New coach Stephen Georgiallis plans to whip the team into shape before the NRLW season starts at the end of July.

“I can only see our team growing and getting better. Even though we didn’t get good results, I could see the positives in the season,” Murphy says.

“(Georgiallis) will raise the standards and we’ll only get better.

“I think he’s really going to hold us accountable and help us grow in confidence.”


Cronulla is the latest NRLW club to land a cross-code rival with former New Zealand Black Ferns forward Pia Tapsell signing for the next two seasons.

The 25-year-old will join the Sharks in July after finishing season with Perth-based Super W side Western Force.

It’s her first venture in rugby league after representing the Black Ferns in six Tests back in 2019.

She’ll add power up front for the Sharks who come into their second NRLW season ready to improve.

“Pia is the utmost professional having been a full-time athlete for five years,” said Sharks head coach Tony Herman.

“We think she’s a great addition to our squad and we’re excited to see what she’ll bring.”

She joins fellow professional rugby union converts Emma Tonegato and Tiana Penitani at the Sharks, but is the latest across the game to make a switch from the rival code.

Last season Tyla Nathan-Wong, Niall Williams-Guthrie and Cheyelle Robins-Reti all joined the NRLW from the Black Ferns system.

“I’ve always been keen to play in (the NRLW), so I thought I’d give it a try this year,” Tapsell said.

“I really liked the Sharks’ style of play on the field. Just chatting with the coaches, staff and some of the other girls in the team, it seems like a really nice environment.

“It looks like a team that’s growing. I’m keen to grow with the team.”

The NRLW season kicks off on July 27 when the Sharks take on North Queensland at PointsBet Stadium.