The Queensland Women’s side may enter this year’s Interstate Challenge on the back of a 16-match winning run, but there is no room for any complacency.
Head coach Brad Donald says the motivation against the Blues is kept pretty simple.
“There’s no talk about streaks, each game is a tough challenge and its own entity … most of the focus is just that we want to beat NSW,” he said.
With injury and retirements taking a toll, the Maroons take nine new faces into today’s fixture Challenge at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville.
Donald, who has coached the side for the past three years, said there was a somewhat new, but equally excited feeling in camp.
Former state representatives Karyn Murphy, Jo Barrett, Kevin Campion and Paul Bowman have offered words of advice and relayed tales of battles past to the current crop.
Paul Bowman and Jo Barrett presented the Queensland team with their jerseys.
“The camp was about making the rookies feel comfortable in the environment as well as making them aware about the history of the Women’s side,” Donald said.
“These girls have been picked in the team for what they can do and they don’t need to do anything more than what has got them here.
“Two have already played for the Jillaroos and three have represented the Indigenous All Stars.”
“One of our rookies Chelsea Baker has represented Queensland in touch and soccer … the girls we have brought in have some representative honours amongst them.”
In the absence of Murphy, 20-year-old Jenni-Sue Hoepper and Courtney Lockwood are set to share playmaking duties.
“It is Jenni-Sue’s first time in the halves, she’s based in Townsville so she’ll be playing in front of her family and friends.
“(Lockwood) has been on the fringe for a long time, but had Karyn Murphy, who in my mind is the greatest female player in the game, in front of her.”
A sizeable portion of the team is based outside the South-East corner, with seven Central Queensland players part of the 19-strong squad.
Donald believes that an increased representation from across the state is evidence that the women’s game is growing strongly.
“That’s an illustration of the efforts to get women’s rugby league happening in places like Clermont, Emerald, Beerwah, Toowoomba, Gladstone and Rockhampton,” he said.
“Girls in those areas are now able to play week-in-week-out and that capacity to play more regularly gives them a great opportunity of getting a representative jumper.”
The Queensland Firebirds’ stunning ANZ Championship and World Cup quarterfinal qualifying Matildas side has seen women’s teams dominate the sporting discourse in recent weeks – something not lost on the Queenslanders.
“That was part of what Karyn (Murphy) touched on in camp,” Donald said.
“Back when she started, they had to raise a levy of a few thousand dollars to play, now we’re covered for travel and uniforms for example.
“There’s still work to be done, but I think we’re heading the same way in terms of professionalism.”
That final word is something the coach is hoping his chargers can channel as kick off draws closer.
“It’s about us implementing what we’ve done all week … there’s plenty of ability in this team, but it’s about showing up for one another and supporting each other.”
The game kicks off at 2.45pm today (Saturday, June 27) ahead of the North Queensland Cowboys V Cronulla Sharks NRL match.
You can watch the game LIVE via our stream on right here on QRL.com.au ... just click here.
Read more and the Queensland Women's Team:
Diverse Backgrounds, Same Goal (Kody House and Courtney Lockwood)
Photo Gallery: Queensland Women Prepare
Video: New Faces will fit right in - Breayley
Video: Bell excited to wear Maroon jersey
Update: Queensland Women's team