Lowri Norkett’s journey to the Wales side has comprised tragedy, three international sports, and more determination than most could muster.
The 27-year-old swapped a centre bib in netball for an inside centre jersey in rugby union, also representing Wales at rugby league along the way, and is one of 25 players with a full-time contract.
Her switch to the oval ball was brought about following the tragic passing of her sister Elli, who was the youngest player at the 2014 Rugby World Cup and represented Wales four times before her death in 2017.
Norkett’s first full game of 15s rugby was a memorial match for Elli, and she now occupies the position her sister once held in the Wales side.
“Making the switch was challenging,” she said.
“I always loved the idea of playing rugby and I used to be in awe of my sister playing, but I never had the confidence to step up and make that transition.
Dream achieved, Norkett legacy continued 🏴
That was for you little one – I knew you were with me every step of the way #EN14 🌸🤍@ellinorkett pic.twitter.com/avyUzAGUnw
— Lowri Norkett (@LNorkett) August 29, 2022
“I thought it was too late to make a change because I’d been in netball for years. It was quite a late time to start rugby and the rules are obviously very different.
“It was challenging at the start, but then as soon as I did my first few games, it just clicked, and I absolutely loved it.”
Norkett’s Test debut came in August last year as Wales took on Canada in a pre-World Cup warm-up match.
The former teacher made her first start of the 2021 Rugby World Cup in the quarter-final defeat to eventual champions New Zealand and is now targeting her TikTok Women’s Six Nations debut having been part of the squad last year.
She added: “No one’s ever rewarded or handed a jersey. You always have to work hard and there’s always so much work put into it.
“I would say that’s one of my best traits, I always work really hard to achieve what I’ve said I’ll do.
📄 𝙲𝚢𝚝𝚞𝚗𝚍𝚎𝚋 𝙻𝚕𝚊𝚠𝚗 𝙰𝚖𝚜𝚎𝚛 𝟸𝟶𝟸𝟹
🏴 The following players has been awarded full-time contracts!#HerStory | #EiHanesHi | #WelshRugby
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 3, 2023
“A lot of people in the past have never thought I would make it this far or maybe doubted what I could do. People’s doubts always give me more fire in my belly to prove people wrong.
“It took me quite a long time to get into the system and I was very new and raw, but I never doubted myself.
“I just knew that I had to work harder because I probably wasn’t ready at certain times in my career.
“But you never give up and you keep working on things and if you know that you’ve got it, you’ve got to believe in yourself and do the best you can to achieve it.”
It is this attitude that has seen Norkett held up as an inspiration for young players in Wales.
She is proof that it is never too late or nothing is too impossible, but also of the healing power of sport.
“If something bad happens in life or a tragedy, I think that you can use sport or you can use something you love to help you,” she explained.
🏴 Unity and belief are the two words @WelshRugbyUnion Head Coach Ioan Cunningham keeps circling back to as he discusses his life in rugby#TikTokW6N
— TikTok Women’s Six Nations (@Womens6Nations) March 2, 2023
“It will never by any means make it better or make things go away but it will help with the process. If you find something you love and something that can take you away from that place, from that dark hole, it’s amazing.
“Rugby really has been a great asset for me and I’ll always be grateful for what it’s given me in terms of friendships, the challenges and also just being a part of the rugby community.
“Sport does wonderful things for people and it’s definitely helped me with the grieving process and finding myself again.”