World Cup star answers SOS
World Cup-winning Jillaroos captain Karyn Murphy has answered an SOS from Queensland Rugby League officials in an attempt to continue their interstate stranglehold when they face New South Wales at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
The clash for the Nellie Doherty Cup that has been in Queensland's possession since 1998 will be played at 4pm following the VB NSW Cup match between Wests Tigers and Canterbury Bankstown with the Jillaroos team for a sole end-of-season Test to be chosen from this game.
Murphy has indicated that she will not make herself available for selection for the Australian team that won the World Cup for the first time last year but is making one last appearance for Queensland in order to usher the next generation of girls into the team.
Queensland coach Broad Donald has named eight debutants in his squad of 18 and said with Nat Dwyer, Theresa Anderson, Jo Barrett and Tahnee Norris all unavailable, he pleaded with Murphy to guide the crop of youngsters one more time.
"We've lost some girls who have played for Australia in key positions, some of them for 10 years, and that left a massive hole in the Queensland side," Donald told NRL.com.
"There are lots of young up-and-coming girls but we have realised being in camp the past couple of days that they are really green and we needed some experience around to show these young girls that it's not easy to step up."
Although playing locally in Mackay where she now works as a police investigator, Murphy first had to be enticed back to play in the state championships and then couldn't say no to one last Queensland jersey.
"For the last few years I've always wondered when the right time is to finish up. I never wanted to be one of those ones that hang on too long but in saying that I didn't want to go too early and miss the game and have regrets," Murphy said.
"For me, winning the World Cup in England was as good a time as any to hang it up and playing for Queensland again was never a thought, even though I knew I'd miss it greatly.
"We did lose a lot of experience and when Brad asked I did um and ah for a little while but I don't know how much convincing it took; I never want to knock back a Queensland jersey.
"I weighed up the positives and negatives and the only negative really was that I had said no, that was enough, but I got over that mental battle and thought that if I could contribute to the team in some way then I'll be happy with that."
In almost an exact replica of the Emerging Origin camps that have been so successful for the Queensland State of Origin team over the past decade, for the first time this week 12 girls on the fringe of the Queensland squad were brought into camp to experience what it is like to play for their state.
The squad prepared for the clash with NSW at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast in a further indicator of the progress the women's game is making in Australia.
Last year's World Cup in England was the first time that the NRL had funded an overseas tour that enabled the Jillaroos to travel with the strongest squad possible, and defeat three-time champions New Zealand in the final.
It's a far cry from the days of a decade ago when in preparing for a Test match in Brisbane the Australian women's team was put up in dorm rooms at a south Brisbane backpackers and Murphy says the focus should now shift to greater media exposure.
In past years this fixture has either been played as a curtain-raiser to an Origin game or an NRL game and Murphy is convinced that if more people are exposed to the quality of the game, the barriers to future representatives will be significantly reduced.
"There a people who want to bag it or who are ignorant to the game but as soon as even your hard heads watch a game, they acknowledge that we can actually play," Murphy said.
"I said after the World Cup that if we could get one of these [interstate] games even just a couple of minutes on Fox Sports where they could play a few highlights because there are still so many people who don't know the product because there just isn't the exposure."
New South Wales: 1 Keezie Apps, 2 Charlette Butler, 3 Teina Clark, 4 Ruby Ewe, 5 Vanessa Folia, 6 Sam Hammond, 7 Jennifer Latu, 8 Chloe Leaupepe, 9 Sharon McGrady, 10 Denise McGrath, 11 Hanna Sio, 12 Ruan Sims, 13 Maddison Studdon. Interchange: 14 Alex Sulusi, 15 Dahlia Tahu, 16 Simaima Taufu-Kautai, 17 Elianna Walton, 18 Margaret Watson, 19 Farlane Wineerai, 20 Emma Young. Coach: Mat Head.
Queensland: 1 Latisha Gary, 2 Kellye Hodges, 3 Annette Brander, 4 Jenni-sue Hoepper, 5 Kady Tinker, 6 Ali Brigginshaw, 7 Karyn Murphy, 8 Steph Hancock, 9 Brittany Breayley, 10 Heather Ballinger, 11 Renae Kunst, 12 Deanna Turner, 13 Tarah Westera. Interchange: 14 Talia Poutini-Lawrence, 15 Nicole Richards, 16 Teri Nukunuku, 17 Jazmyn Taumafai, 18 Aleasha Brider. Coach: Brad Donald.