The Roar
The Roar



NRLW Grand Final Talking Points: Upton girl living in her own world, Chapman all class, future bright with next gen talent

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1st October, 2023

It’s Tamika Upton’s world and we are just living in it. With two tries and two try assists, Upton had a hand in almost every single point Newcastle scored in their 24-18 win over the Gold Coast.

It was one of the best NRLW Grand Finals to date, with the lead changing three times throughout the game.

The Titans had the upper hand early with a try to Jaime Chapman in the 12th minute, but it was the Knights that took the lead into half-time, with three tries in six minutes.

Gold Coast struck back with two quick tries early in the second half, but then it was Upton who showed up when it mattered.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: Knights players celebrate with the Premiership Trophy after winning the 2023 NRLW Grand Final match between Newcastle Knights and Gold Coast Titans at Accor Stadium, on October 01, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Knights players celebrate with the NRLW Premiership Trophy. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

A Knight to remember for Tamika

What a pleasure to watch Upton this season. After being hampered by injury in the last couple of seasons, Upton did not miss a game this season.

She is the best player in the world right now. She now has four NRLW Premierships to her name and this year, won the State of Origin Series, was the Dally M Women’s Player of the Year and now is the first player to win back to back Karyn Murphy medals.


It certainly was not the result that Karyn Murphy, the Titans coach was hoping to see, but I shed a little tear watching her present the medal named after her to Upton at the end of the game.

After being selected for the Australian Jillaroos last year, but pulling out, Upton will be the first player picked to wear the Jillaroos jersey for the upcoming internationals in a field of outstanding fullbacks including Evania Pelite, Botille Vette-Welsh and Tegan Berry.

Chapman all class out wide

Unfortunately for the Titans, the result did not go their way but if they had been able to hold on, Chapman would have no doubt won the Karyn Murphy Medal.

Incredibly, Chapman scored a hat-trick in this Grand Final off almost the same play each time. A beautiful pass, slightly held up by Lauren Brown led to a four-pointer each time down the left for Chapman.

She is one of the strongest players in the women’s game and a fitting end to a season which saw her make her State of Origin debut.


Young and old make their mark

It’s a wonderful point in the NRLW season right now, where there is such a mixture of players. There are veterans, players who have switched from other sports and the next generation of players coming through.

In this NRLW Grand Final, the Titans had five teenagers on the park. That is the most teenagers to feature in a Grand Final ever. The record in the women’s game was held by the St George Illawarra Dragons in the 2019 Grand Final and in the men’s it was Easts in 1931 with three.

Four of the Titans teenagers featured for Queensland in the under 19s State of Origin and will only get better from here.

In particular, Chantay Kiria-Ratu got her opportunity in the halves earlier this year after an injury to Tahliah Fuimaono in round one.


Then at the other end of the spectrum there is Steph Hancock, age 41 who played her first game for the Jillaroos before players like Rilee Jorgensen was born and Karina Brown, another veteran of the women’s game.

Then for the Knights, 18-year-old Jesse Southwell kept her cool and led her team around the park with aplomb. After a challenging State of Origin series, she has really grown into this season and now has two premiership rings.

Sisters doing it for themselves

Hannah Southwell missed the Grand Final last year after suffering a season ending ACL injury. But this year she got to play alongside her sister Jesse and taste premiership glory.

Not since Andrew and Matthew Johns has there been a more beloved sibling pair to come out of Newcastle and no doubt they will take the party back to Newcastle, although they will be a lot less raucous than those Johns boys in 1997.

Anything is possible in the NRLW


Much has been made of the Titans’ journey this year. The self professed ‘junkyard dogs’ of the competition have gone from the wooden spoon in the 2022 season to Grand Finalists.

But Newcastle did the same thing. After finishing bottom of the ladder in 2021, they have now won successive titles.

It is a credit to both coaches, Ronald Griffiths and Karyn Murphy and perhaps it bodes well for the Parramatta Eels who finished bottom of the ladder this year.