In the final year of women’s one-off Origin matches, with two wins each for New South Wales and Queensland after four encounters, there is even more at stake than usual when the rivals meet in Canberra on Friday night.
Most important points:
- Both New South Wales and Queensland have each won two matches under the home state flag
- With the series expanding to two games next year, bragging rights for the first five years of Women’s Origin are at stake
- With arctic conditions expected in Canberra Friday night, forward power and tactical kicking will be paramount for both sides
With the series being expanded to two games next year, a new era is dawning for women’s rugby league, but it will require clearing old scores.
Both sides have had two wins each since 2018 and every win has been won on home soil, so on the frozen tundra of Canberra Stadium, the closest to neutral ground in rugby competition, they will be fighting for the right to say they are the best of this era.
The game is sort of a decider, five years in the making.
For their part, the Blues are also determined to improve on their two-game losing streak.
“It annoys me (when I think about it). I hate losing so it wasn’t great. But we played in Queensland for the last two years, I’m glad this is a little closer to homegrown,” said New South Wales prop Millie Boyle.
“Everyone gets hungrier every year you don’t have that success. We know what it’s like to win, but now we know what it’s like to lose.”
The Blues are entering the game as favourites, in part due to the presence of Boyle and fellow NRLW Dally M winner Emma Tonegato as fullback.
While Queensland boast quality in the rear, especially with custodian Tamika Upton and the dangerous five-eighth Tarry Aiken, the arctic conditions in Canberra should play into the Blues’ power and distance game with Boyle, Tonegato and star player Simaima Taufa at the back. pipe.
In such circumstances, the kicking game will be crucial – the Maroons will once again look to Ali Brigginshaw, the best playmaker the women’s game has ever seen, to lead the charge, while New South Wales debutant halfback will trust Rachael Pearson to take the lead. about the match. show.
Pearson, who had a stellar NRLW debut season with the Dragons, has the biggest boot in the game and local Hay will aim to show it early and often at Canberra Stadium.
She’ll have to overcome any debutante’s jitters, but after appearing in St George Illawarra’s run-up to the NRLW’s grand finale, Pearson believes she has the experience of the big game to get the job done.
“It was an emotional moment when I found out I was debuting. I was excited and proud, got the call from Kylie and heard her say ‘I want you to be my New South Wales halfback’, what else can you say but “I’d like to,” Pearson said.
“It was hectic and crazy, but in a good way, when I got to the back of that NRLW season. I thought I had a good off-season chance that I had, but getting the call was still so exciting.
“Just came into the barns and saw ‘Pearson’ on the back of the jersey, I had tears in my eyes. It probably won’t quite hit me until I run out in Canberra.
“Sowie (Dragons coach Jamie Soward) told me he can’t wait for the switch to come to my mind when I realize I’m the player who should be here. But I’m not a boastful person, I just want to seize this opportunity and act upon it.”
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