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What goes on inside Annette's head?

Annette Brander has had a love affair with rugby league since her very first flirtation with the game as a teenage student at Caboolture State High.

Her rugby league romance will deepen further on Friday night when she makes history as a member of the Harvey Norman Queensland's Women's State of origin, set team to take on NSW at North Sydney Oval.

The clash is being televised by Channel 9, with the women's game on the rise and a new NRLW League about to kick off later this year.

Brander revealed she was never really interested in playing rugby league until being pestered by classmates short on numbers for their school competition.

"I grew up playing tennis," she told QRL Media.

"I had absolutely no idea what football was, I never watched it on the tele and I only started playing because my friends begged me when they needed numbers.

"But I fell in love with the game the first time I played.

"By the end of the year I was playing for the senior team (Caboolture State High) side and I think I was only one from my friends who continued playing fulltime after high school."

Brander has reached the dizzying heights of playing for her state and country, but had to endured a few hard knocks along the way.

The lure for her was the mateship and feeling part of a team.

It still is.

"I love how everyone gets together like a big family and how everyone puts their bodies on the line for each other," she said

"That's what drew me to the sport and makes me want to keep playing it."

Brander was 17 when she started playing with the Sunshine Coast Sirens.

She remembers her first game for the Sirens was on the wing and she finished with a bloody nose.

"That was fun," she laughed.

"But it didn't deter me. When the Sirens folded, I moved on to Beerwah for about five years.

"That's where I made the Queensland and Australian sides from 2014 when I was 21.

She said when she Initially started out with Beerwah it was for the social aspect.

"I just loved playing, I didn't have any major aspirations to be honest until one of my coaches pulled me aside and said: 'You know, if you apply yourself, you could go a lot further'," Brander revealed

"The next year I kept thinking about what he said and I thought to myself: 'Okay, I'll show you' and that's the year I first played for Queensland.

"It was a massive highlight. I wasn't really thinking I would play for Australia, but I got the call up for the Jillaroos."

Brander has played four Test matches for the Jillaroos and Friday's appearance with be her fourth for Queensland -- quite an impressive resume.

It could have been five Maroon caps, except she narrowly missed selection last year when Queensland lost its second interstate game in a row after winning its previous 17.

Brander copped her omission last year on the chin.

"The feedback I got was that my defence was good but I was a little quiet in attack, which was fair enough I guess" she explained.

Instead of sulking around, she used the selection 'snub' to work harder on all parts of her game to reclaim her place in the Queensland side.

"It was a massive turning point for me," she reflected.

"To be honest it was pretty devastating in that, until I got overlooked, I probably didn't appreciate how much being part of the Queensland side truly meant to me.

"I worked extremely hard on my game to get back and was rewarded with selection in the World Cup last year and I played four Tests.

"It's so easy to be complacent when you have been in a team for a while and feel comfortable and secure, and sometimes you just start going through the motions.

"To be overlooked for selection, it's a massive wake-up call and a reminder you can never take selection for granted.

"To miss out was really devastating, but I wouldn't change a thing because it actually made me realise how much wearing the maroon jersey meant to me and how much I wanted it back.

"You can either go one of two ways. You can say 'Hey this is crap' or can say 'No, I am going to get this jumper back'."

"I wanted it back."

Brander revealed the Jillaroos now have an award named in her honour for the player who does something dumb or stupid.

"It's called the AB award and they have to wear like a special vest," she said.

"I used to always be leaving stuff behind or losing stuff.

"Once when I was playing a game I remember I couldn't find my room key card. I couldn't find it anywhere. I asked all the girls.

"When I finished the game and pulled off my boot I said to Steph Hancock 'my card is in my boot' I'd just played 80 minutes with my room key it in my boot," she laughed.

"I also played another game earlier this year with my mouthguard and my apartment key in my bra the whole time."

Acknowledgement of Country

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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