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Sharks captain Tiana Penitani reckons rookie Annessa Biddle is a centre in a back rower’s body.
“She could play in the middle easily. We’re really grateful to have someone like her in our side,” Penitani said.
Biddle believes Penitani is the role model to show her the way to a successful NRLW career.
The New Zealander comes of age next week when she turns 21 – but her display in the 16-8 win over St George Illawarra on Thursday night at PointsBet Stadium might mean she’s already there.
Biddle topped her Sharks teammates with 202 metres off 15 runs, having averaged more than 153 per game this year.
“Are you serious? That far?” Biddle told NRL.com in the dressing rooms post-game.
Considering all five members of the Sharks back-five ran for 110 metres or more against the Dragons, it’s no mean feat to come out on top.
She’s played all but one game for the Sharks this year – missing Round Seven due to a one-week suspension for a dangerous tackle.
Biddle was plucked by Sharks recruiters from the Otara Scorpions in the local Auckland rugby league competition to make her debut in the NRLW in 2023.
She opened her Sharks career playing on the wing outside Penitani but was then moved by coach Tony Herman to right centre due to her strength and speed.
“So coming from a winger to centre I just look at Tiana and all that she does – her work rate, her communication.”
“I kind of aspire to do the same but then I was put on the other side so I’m trying my best to learn what I did from her into practice. She is amazing.”
“A lot of people say I could go into the forwards but I like being in the outside backs and doing the hard yards and finding ways to split the line.”
She is managing fine in that department too with 23 tackle-breaks and four line-breaks in seven games. Defensively against the Dragons she was the only Sharks outside back to reach double figures in tackles making 18 and missing just one.
“I just love gathering knowledge as much as I can – from my teammates, players from different teams, my coaches and managers. I’m so eager to learn,” Biddle said.
“I’m Auckland born-and-bred but made my way over here this year and I’m loving it. We have a great culture here. We are close on and off the field.”
“But I’m still a Kiwi girl.”
That means she has her eyes on a black-and-white Ferns jersey one day.
It could be as soon as later next month when the Jillaroos play a two-Test series against New Zealand in Townsville and then Melbourne.
“Whatever happens, happens. If it’s not my year this year then I’ll try hard again next year. My aim is to get to the Kiwi team,” she said.
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