Meet Nita Maynard
Nita, tell us about your background and story to where you are today?
I was born and raised in a small town Gisborne, New Zealand with my father and older sister. I was always a really active kid and played every sport under the sun being from such a small town. I completed all my schooling in Gisborne and was given a scholarship to go to university which saw me move to Auckland for a year. At the end of the first year I decided to move to Australia to work during the break and loved Australia so much I never went back. I have been lucky enough to have played for the Australian Women's Rugby Union team in both 15 aside and 7s and then later play rugby league for the Sydney Roosters, Parramatta Eels, NSW Blues and also the kiwi ferns. The greatest part of my move to Australia has been the birth of my now 9 year old daughter London who is another crazy footy head like myself and her father. I am currently a women's operation manager for the RLPA (Rugby League union), about to debut for the Brisbane Broncos and working towards making the Kiwi Ferns team heading to the World Cup at the end of the year.
What are the keys to success for anyone looking to replicate a similar pathway?
I would say for whatever field you are involved in find something you are truly passionate about and really enjoy and stick to it. Whether that's training, study or relationship building I find if you are truly passionate about something you will always push through and find a way.
How do you successfully manage your life and training balance?
Juggling work, parenthood and training is very challenging. Building a good support base was vital for me to be able to commit so much of my time to training. I was fortunate enough to have like minded people around me so it was easier as we had a lot of areas in common and they eventually became my best friends where we made time to hang out together outside of training. Family has been the biggest key for me and has kept me grounded and supported through tough times.
What continues to drive you for a happy lifestyle?
Still being passionate about wanting to play sport and contribute to the betterment of the rugby league. It makes the sacrifices of being away from my family meaningful to be able to represent them at such a level. My biggest drive is showing my daughter that if she works hard enough and is passionate enough about anything she can do whatever she wants.
How did you enter the professional sport world and how did you get to where you are today?
I have always been sport crazy and was competitive enough that I made representative teams when I was younger. My big break came when I moved over to Australia and I started playing club rugby union I was scouted and invited to various Australian Rugby 7s camps. I fell pregnant shortly after so was out for an extended period but once I had my daughter I returned to play club rugby union and was later picked for the Wallaroos (Australian 15 aside team) for a New Zealand tour and then the world cup. I then went on to play 7 aside and travelled around the world with feeder teams and was fortunate enough to play in the Australian Women's 7s team that toured Fiji in 2016. Later that year I trialled for a Cronulla Sharks team who were establishing the first official NRL associated women's team where in 2017 they established 9 aside exhibition matches that were played before the NRL team and invited local Sydney teams to play under NRL team banner for a single game. At the end of the year I was fortunate enough to make the NZ Kiwi Ferns team for the 2017 World Cup and from then I have been involved in rugby league playing in the inaugural NRLW competition as well as the inaugural women's state of origin. I continue to play rugby league at a representative level where I will play for the Brisbane Broncos in the 2022 NRLW season with the hopes of representing NZ at the world cup in October.
How did you become involved as an NRLW player with the Sydney Roosters and can you explain the transition to becoming a player with the Parramatta Eels?
In Sydney you play in your local state competition for your local team. I played for the Cronulla Carringbah Sharks in the NSW competition where I was picked up to play at nationals for NSW City. Before the conclusion of the tournament I was then given the opportunity to play for the Sydney Roosters. I then spent 3 years at the Roosters but with the expansion in 2021 it came with the opportunity to play with a number of my friends and play in a team that represented an area where I spent the first period of my life in Australia.
I've made the move north to Brisbane Broncos this season and am looking forward to playing with team mates I wouldn't normally get the chance to if I weren't to play with the Broncos
What is your best career highlight from playing sports all over the globe?
It would be winning the World Cup 9s in 2019 and having my daughter come on the field after the game to share in the moment.
What is your favourite part about coaching young athletes?
Seeing the young athletes' enjoyment in learning new skills and seeing the sense of accomplishment they get especially when they initially were unable to perform something.
What is involved in being an elite player manager with the Rugby League Association?
My role is specific to the betterment of the terms, conditions and benefits of elite female rugby league players. We advocate for elite female rugby league players in the advancement of women's rugby league and ensuring the players are supported throughout their journey into, during and transition out of NRLW.