Able to play in the back row or at lock, she is a rising star in Australian rugby

Hotshot: Wallaroos back-row Grace Kemp

Date of birth 8 June 2001 Born Goulburn Position Back-row Team Brumbies Country Australia

How did you get involved in rugby? 

I’m from the small town of Harden in regional NSW and my dad played for Harden Red Devils. My older brother and I grew up watching him play, then we started. I was about five or six, and on a team with two girls and the rest were boys. My mum let me play until U8s when it became contact.

When did you get back into it? 

I had about a six-year break. I was at Young High and the Catholic school across the road had a team that they let me join.

I also joined Canberra Royals U16s and I’ve been playing there ever since.

What is it about rugby that you like?

I love the physicality and that anyone can play, so many different bodies play.

What are your strengths?

I love a good ball-carry! My big work-on this year has been tackling and I also want to get more knowledge from all the girls around me.

How have you found this year? 

It’s been a massive step up. I went from Super W to club footy to Internationals. I’ve been in this squad since 2019 but footy dropped off with Covid, so to pull on the green-and-gold jersey and play Test-match footy is pretty special.

Who has been your biggest influence? 

It would have to be my dad. He got me on this journey. Footy-wise, without the Brumbies girls in the squad – Tania Naden, Siokapesi Palu and Michaela Leonard – I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am today. We all push each other so hard in satellite training.

What do you do away from rugby? 

I’m studying primary teaching. I have two days of study a week and I work in a high school as a learning support assistant on the other days.

Anything else we should know? 

I’m a proud indigenous woman. I’m from the Wiradjuri land and have played a lot of footy for indigenous teams. We wore the indigenous jersey against Wales so that was special.

RW Verdict: Kemp used to look up to players like Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry – now she’s played in a Rugby World Cup with them. Described as “very dynamic” by Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning, she looks destined to have a long Test career.

This article originally appeared in Rugby World magazine’s November 2022 edition.

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