A favourite character around women’s rugby league circles; Zahara Temara is someone who moves to her own laidback beat.
Nothing seems to rush her as she shuffles her way around representative camps; taking everything in with a distant smile.
She also has this same time when she is on the football field; which is why the past two seasons have seen her star rise; debuting for both the Queensland Women’s team and Australia the last year.
She was a member of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup winning Jillaroos side and retained her place in the halves for Queensland this year; taking part in the Holden Women’s State of Origin match last Friday night.
Corey Parker likened her to Rabbitohs half Cody Walker in his commentary; describing her as an instinctive player during the FOX telecast of the historic women’s match; with her kicking game causing issues for the New South Wales defence.
While the Harvey Norman Queensland Women’s team went down in a heart-breaking thriller, the evening was an experience she won’t forget.
“It was an amazing night; we were there for almost an hour after the game signing things for young girls,” she said.
“We are role models – they are looking at us; how we play footy and how we represent ourselves and Queensland.
“It was good to see the excitement (from the crowd); that was the best thing.”
While it was the first time the women played under the Origin banner; the five-eighth was quick to acknowledge the past players who had paved the way for the game at North Sydney Oval to happen.
“It was good to be one of the first ones to play Origin,” she said. “But we know the history, we know we had been playing it (Queensland v NSW) for 19 years.
“For Queensland, it was good to have players like Jo Barrett, Nat Dwyer and Karyn Murphy in camp (as assistant coaches and team manager).
“I still played my hardest last year – but (this year) I was so proud and really understood the meaning of playing for Queensland and sacrifices it takes (having heard from them).”
While many Maroons fans would have wanted to see her in Broncos colours as the only Queensland-based club in the four-team Holden NRL Women’s Premiership (joining the likes of Steph Hancock, Heather Ballinger, Brittany Breayley and Ali Brigginshaw); she was instead snapped up by the Sydney Roosters.
After the completion of the SEQ Women’s Division 1 season with the Burleigh Bears; she will head south to play in the inaugural women’s competition; sending her away from home to pursue the next stage in her burgeoning rugby league career.
“I’m excited and happy to be playing for the Roosters,” she said. “To be honest, I was happy to play anywhere and to be a part of it; I didn’t know if I would get an offer and thought if I did; I’d just have to take it, but I ended up getting two offers (so had to make a decision).
“I only had about a week-and-a-half to think about it as we had (Harvey Norman) National Championships coming up; and I didn’t want to think about contracts too much when I was focusing on footy.”
However, the decision was made easier knowing that her Queensland captain Karina Brown was also Roosters-bound – coupled with the encouragement of her parents who wished for her to experience new things; with family being one of the most important things in Temara’s life.
“She [Karina] probably doesn’t know it – but she’s been massive for me to make it to where I have now,” Temara said of Brown, who previously played with the Bears in a team she helped establish.
“From when she was at Burleigh before she went to Easts and with Queensland.”
A self-described homebody, the Nerang Roosters junior will be relocating for the duration of the NRL competition taking place in September, and is looking forward to the challenge that will bring.
“Roosters said you could do fly-in, fly-out or relocate. I was concerned with the move as I can get homesick in camps and it can be tough and they are only one week,” she said.
“But my mum and dad thought it would be good for me.
“When I went down for the announcement, I was speaking to the other girls and they said how much of a family feel at the club had; and that’s something I really like; that’s what we have at Burleigh – so I am looking forward to that at the Roosters as well.”
Temara will play the rest of the season with the ladder-leading Burleigh Bears in the SEQW competition before joining the Roosters to take part in another history-making foray for women’s rugby league.
While she is blazing a path for female players; she doesn’t need to look far to see who is gaining inspiration from her achievements.
Her little sister Chante took part in the Under 18 Girls Harvey Norman QAS Emerging Origin camp (video below) earlier this year and made her debut for the Burleigh Bears just last month.
“She’s showing me up at club already,” Temara laughed when speaking about her sister perhaps outshining her one day.
“I’ve been pushed out of kicking duties; she’s only been playing women’s footy for four games!
“But I want her to be better than me. And she’s got the pathways and opportunities to go for it as well.”
Under 15 & Under 18 Girls Emerging Origin Camp