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Jillaroos hooker Brittany Breayley can be forgiven for feeling nervous when Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith enters a room or attends a joint media session.    

Breayley – a born and bred Queenslander hailing from Mackay – lists Smith and former Kiwis hooker Issac Luke as two NRL players she aims to model her game around. 

The Brothers Ipswich rake has been one of several standout performers in Brad Donald's line-up throughout Australia’s World Cup campaign, and puts her success down to wanting to emulate her heroes. 

From watching hundreds of video clips to witnessing live action, Breayley has gone extra lengths to advance her game. 

“[Smith] is someone I've idolised for years with the impact he's had on the game,” Breayley told 

“He's composed and controls the game so well. That's what I try and aim to do. I pay attention to [Luke's] running game. I've been trying to emulate their games and combine them.”

Speaking to, Smith was humbled to hear Breayley’s comments after she declared the 2017 golden boot winner as her “number one”.

“Oh really? That is nice to hear,” Smith said. 

“She's a good No.9, she's tenacious and doesn't mind getting involved defensively, knows when to run and pass. I've been really impressed along with the rest of her team-mates.

“I'd like to think that maybe some of the things I've done have helped her develop her game and it's great to see the improvement in the girls over the past few years.

“It's good that the Kangaroos and Jillaroos have a fair bit of interaction now. We get to talk about rugby league a fair bit and how they're travelling and we're travelling, or training and preparation.”

The interest in Warriors hooker Luke dates back to her father's Kiwi heritage.

Luke averaged an incredible 104 metres during South Sydney Rabbitohs' 2014 premiership-winning season before later moving to the New Zealand Warriors.  

The 26-year-old was quick to laugh off suggestions she could have been playing for the Kiwi Ferns in Saturday's decider. 

“My dad is from New Zealand so technically, based on my heritage, I could have, but I was born here and am an Aussie through and through,” she said. 

“Dad backs me 100% playing in the green and gold.”

Eight Queensland-based players have returned to the sunshine state as the Jillaroos look to defend their World Cup crown at Suncorp Stadium.

After spending the first three weeks of the tournament in Sydney, the chance to play in a World Cup final on home turf is a dream come true for the nippy dummy half.  

“My whole family will be there so I'm looking forward to that,” Breayley said. 

“It's going to be a massive test for us. We are coming off the back of a win [in May] against the Kiwi girls down in Canberra, but they're going to be solid and look to strike back.'”

While Breayley will prepare for a first World Cup final, Maroons team-mate and Jillaroos co-captain Renae Kunst is preparing for a final appearance at international level after having debuted in the 2008 tournament. 

Another Mackay local, Kunst has provided the game with more than a decade of service.

“I started when I was 17 in Mackay alongside Renae so have been on a big journey with her playing local footy and now on the international stage,” Breayley said. 

“When I played my first game and found out she was playing for Australia I just thought that is awesome.

“Playing Origin with her was probably the biggest moment of my life, but then being called up to play for Australia is the pinnacle of our sport.

“It's been an absolute honour and hopefully we can send her and everyone out a winner.”

*This first appeared on

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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