Grace Kemp needed a challenge and is loving her time at the Raiders

Grace Kemp has had an exceptional sporting career to date (and she's just getting started).

Kemp grew up in Harden and just like most country towns there was an array of sports for Kemp to play including soccer, tennis, swimming and athletics.

But, her dad and brothers played rugby union for the Harden Red Devils and Kemp wanted to do the same. Her mum wasn't as keen for her to play, once contact came into it, but she promised her mum to wear head gear, which she apparently threw off in her first game.

Once Kemp committed to rugby union and was selected as part of the Australia A squad in 2019 and all subsequent Australian camps since then, she has had the chance to play all over the world and even represent her country. But to date, her two favourite games that she has ever played have been for the Canberra Raiders.

"Those two home games were amazing, just amazing and my favourite games I have ever played," said Kemp.

"The club put so much thought into making it special for us; we had our families in the change room after the game and also had them in the guard of honour as we ran on.

"You get goosebumps in the tunnel because you can hear the Viking Clap.

"The club really wanted to involve everyone and that made it special because they put so much effort into thinking about the little things."

Kemp is part of a growing group of women who are switching from rugby union to rugby league or who are choosing to juggle both at the same time (like Grace Hamilton).

For Kemp, part of the reason for the switch was that she needed a change. After being part of the rugby union system for several years, Kemp needed a new challenge.

"It is so nice to start fresh and having these little milestones you can hit," said Kemp.

"Bortho has cut some little clips for me, shown me what I need to do better and keeps telling me that there is no pressure on me which I really love," said Kemp.

"The club is really supportive; to be honest I have never been part of such a supportive club, which makes it even better because that support means everything for an athlete.

The reality for both the Super W and the NRLW is that their women's seasons are shorter, which really raises the stakes, particularly when it comes to putting yourself in front of Australian selectors. If a player gets injured early in the season, that could mean that they miss an entire year and aren't considered for representative fixtures for another whole year.

The Super W competition in 2023 lasted for five rounds, with the final in May. But in such a compressed season, it means that rugby union players can make themselves available for the NRLW, where the pre-season started in June.

"There are so many young women who want to play rugby league and rugby union, so there's a chance to support both sports more and let these women play both," said Kemp.

The Raiders have been one of the real surprise packets in this NRLW season. They have won their last two games, posting wins over the Sydney Roosters and the Wests Tigers. It might sound clichéd, but for Kemp it's a reflection on how close the group is, featuring established players like Simaima Taufa and Zahara Temara, internationals like Hollie-Mae Dodd and Apii Nicholls and some players from other sports like Kemp and Sophie Holyman.

"We are all really connected, but we are all so different and that's what really brings us together," said Kemp.

"They are all amazing athletes, we love to learn together and training never feels like a chore.

"Training has been unreal, Captain's Runs are amazing and then we get to go out there and win for each other on the weekend."

As for the future, Kemp isn't sure what it holds just yet, but what is most encouraging is how much she is enjoying her rugby league experience.

"I'm loving rugby league at the moment and I'm not sure what I want to do moving forward," said Kemp.

"I was positive on going back to rugby union before playing with the Raiders, but now I'm focused on keeping my doors open and enjoying the experience."