PAUL Davis usually finds it hard to smile at this time each year.
On Monday, the Central Newcastle rugby league coach and former Balmain Tigers five-eighth will commemorate the third anniversary of the death of his 15-year-old son.
Paul Davis-Welsh was killed in a car accident at Kempsey just days after being named in the NSW under-16 Indigenous team to play the curtain-raiser to the inaugural NRL v Indigenous All Stars exhibition game on the Gold Coast.
Paul had signed a three-year contract with the Titans and had the world at his feet.
Davis still chokes back tears when he talks about his son, but that pain was eased last weekend when his 16-year-old daughter, Nakia Davis-Welsh, was selected in the Australian Indigenous Women’s All Stars team.
The Year 10 Hunter Sports High School student had not played organised rugby league until six weeks ago, when she helped the Mindaribba Sisters win the annual Koori Knockout at Raymond Terrace on the October long weekend.
‘‘She got picked for the NSW Indigenous team from there and they went to Queensland at the weekend and played the Queensland girls, then she texted me after that and said, ‘Dad, I got in,’’’ Davis told the Newcastle Herald last night.
‘‘I couldn’t believe it. She’s only 16 – 17 next April.
‘‘We’re over the moon, me and my family, because my son was killed in a car accident three years ago.
‘‘This weekend is the trials for the Indigenous under-16s, and three years ago he got chosen in that team, then three days later he was killed in a car accident.
‘‘It’s mixed emotions for us ... We were over the moon that she was even considered for it.’’
Three of Nakia’s Mindaribba teammates, Candice Clay and sisters-in-law Rebecca and Emma Young, will join her as Newcastle’s four representatives in the 20-woman squad to play before the NRL v Indigenous All Stars game at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on February 9.
‘‘I still can’t believe it. It’s a privilege to be picked,’’ Nakia said.
Davis’s role as Central coach set Nakia on the path to All Stars selection.
Central’s captain is former Knights forward Michael Young, whose sister is Emma and wife is Rebecca.
‘‘Mick was getting a team together for Mindaribba for the Aboriginal knock-out carnival, and he asked me if I knew any girls who wanted a run,’’ Davis said.
‘‘I told him my daughter’s played touch before but she’s never played league before but ... she’s been to Canberra playing AFL with the school team and was player of the tournament.
‘‘She plays netball ... CHS touch football, now she’s in the Indigenous All Stars team.
‘‘It’s been a hard road for us ... but Nakia is helping to fill those gaps.’’