Former New Zealand Black Ferns forward Pia Tapsell will become the latest rugby union star to convert to league after signing with the Sharks for the 2024 and 2025 NRLW seasons.
Renowned in the 15-a-side code for her strong carries and aggressive defence, Tapsell made six Test appearances for the Black Ferns in 2019 and almost won their prestigious Rookie of the Year award.
The 25-year-old, about to return to action after suffering an ACL injury while representing Chiefs Manawa ahead of last year's Super Rugby Aupiki season, will bring class and poise to the Sharks squad.
She will play for the Perth-based Western Force in the Super W during the first part of this year before switching codes leading into the NRLW season kicking off in July.
"Pia is the utmost professional, having been a full-time athlete for five years," Sharks head coach Tony Herman said.
"We think she's a great addition to our squad and we're excited to see what she'll bring."
Tapsell has been keeping a close eye on the NRLW in recent years. She is enthused by the competition's progression and the opportunities it presents.
"I've always been keen to play in it, so I thought I'd give it a try this year," she 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."
Born in Melbourne while her parents were on a navy posting, Tapsell grew up watching rugby league with her father Mark, a talented player in his own right.
"I started playing union, which he always supported as well, but when I told him I was keen to give league a go he was pretty stoked!" she said.
Tapsell has played for North Harbour Hibiscus, Bay of Plenty Volcanix and Chiefs Manawa across her impressive rugby union career.
She is a Māori woman from the Ngāti Whakauae and Te Arawa iwi.