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Romy Teitzel was the 2021 BHP Premiership player of the year

From the highs of making the Maroons squad and being named the BHP Premiership's player of the year, to the lows of the NRLW season being postponed after she'd already relocated to Newcastle, Romy Teitzel rode a wave of emotions during 2021.

After making her NRLW debut in 2020 with the Broncos, Teitzel made a life-changing decision to move to Newcastle and join the fledgling club for the 2021 season, only to have the season delayed from August to October and eventually cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.

TIme in lockdown and hotel quarantine followed before she was able to return home to Townsville and that's when the 22-year-old fullback was rewarded for her standout season in the BHP Premiership.

In nine appearances for the North Queensland Gold Stars, Teitzel scored nine tries and had 42 tackle breaks to earn selection in the team of the year as well as taking home the top gong.

"Winning player of year was totally unexpected but I was very grateful and honoured," Teitzel said. "North Queensland did well which led to me winning that award but I was just doing my job.

The Knights took to the field on Monday for their first pre-season training session.
The Knights took to the field on Monday for their first pre-season training session.

"One of the most fundamental aspects of playing fullback is returning the ball and having a strong start to the set and I think I did that pretty well."

With the award in her kit bag and the extra confidence provided by a call-up to Tahnee Norris' Origin squad last June, Teitzel is back in the Hunter and ready to make her mark with the Casey Bromilow-coached Knights.

Having arrived in Newcastle last Friday to begin training on Monday, Teitzel says the feeling in the camp is positive ahead of a blockbuster season opener against Parramatta at McDonald Jones Stadium on February 27.

"Relocation is never easy and North Queensland isn't just around the corner but moving around is just something you have to do with the growth in the women’s game and you take that opportunities when you can," Teitzel said.

"Ive got a few familiar faces from the Gold Stars here with me and that makes things a bit easier. I'm rooming with Tahlulah Tillett who is a good friend of mine.

"It's nice to have someone familiar with you to be able to settle in together."

Among the many challenges posed by a third relocation in 18 months is trying to complete a teaching degree, but Teitzel is adamant all the sacrifices are worthwhile.

"I'm studying to be a high school teacher. It's a four-year degree and I've been in my fourth year for 18 months now but footy is my main focus," she said.

"We have a great opportunity to build the club. It's a very passionate rugby league community here and that first game [against the Eels] will be a chance to showcase our talent and build support in the community.

"Casey has a lot of experience in the women’s game and he has a good team of assistants who know what they are talking about. They are coming up with a game plan suits our team."

The 2021 NRLW season is coming

Teitzel is sure to figure prominently in that game plan as she looks to put together a string of quality performances that can propel her into the Maroons starting team alongside former Broncos team-mates Tamika Upton, Lauren Brown, Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Tallisha Harden and Ali Brigginshaw.

Having watched from the sideline as 18th player as Queensland downed NSW 8-6 in a thriller on the Sunshine Coast last year, Teitzel craves a bigger slice of the Origin atmosphere in 2022.

"I was honoured to make that squad and hopefully I make the 17 this year," Teitzel said.

"There were lots of Broncos girls in camp and they were really nurturing and supportive of the new girls.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

"I was in there as a centre and that was a new position for me so I tried to learn from Julia Robinson and Lauren Brown."

Having been part of the star studded Broncos squad in 2020, Teitzel is accustomed to soaking up advice and learning from the best, including good friend Upton, who has enjoyed a stunning rise to prominence since making her NRLW debut in 2019.

With Upton a certainty to wear the No.1 jersey, Teitzel knew the time was right to take the plunge and move to a new club, even if it meant putting her job and studies on hold and venturing 2000km south.

"The Broncos gave me a good opportunity so I was happy to fit in anywhere and Tamika is a great player, but it's exciting to be able to build something new here," Teitzel said.

"I had a lot of great friends there and they had a great culture. I was able to learn a lot from senior players like Ali Brigginshaw and Millie Boyle and Tallisha Harden. They really helped the younger players coming through."

Now settled in her new home in rugby league heartland, Teitzel will look to take all that know-how and use it to lead the Knights' charge in their debut season in the NRLW.