After a whirlwind 2018, one of the rising stars of the women’s game in Queensland, has her mind set on taking the next step and representing the Maroons in 2019.
Amber Pilley, who is a member of this year's Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons training squad, had a breakout 2018 where she starred for the premiership winning Burleigh Bears and earned an NRLW contract with the Brisbane Broncos.
She played every game in the inaugural season, including the in the club's win over the Roosters in the NRLW grand final.
Her roll continued with another appearance for the Indigenous All Stars in February, and with the SEQW season about to commence this weekend, Pilley has her eyes firmly set on continuing her development in hopes of securing her maiden Maroons jersey.
“I would love to wear the Queensland jersey - it would just be an amazing thing,” Pilley said.
“I’ve never played in the State of Origin match and that’s something I’ve always aspired to play in.
“I recently got invited to the Queensland training squad, which was so exciting and already felt like a tick off the bucket list, so I’m just going into it really motivated, trying to train as hard as I possibly can away from those sessions so that when I come in, the coaches are impressed by my work ethic and my drive.”
The best way for Pilley to earn her way to a Queensland jersey is to keep starring for the Burleigh Bears in the SEQW competition.
Pilley was outstanding for the Bears last season as they secured their fourth consecutive premiership and under the tutelage of coach and Jillaroos legend Tahnee Norris, she has taken her game to new heights.
Norris has been an influential figure in women’s rugby league, not only in her outstanding playing career, but in her work coaching and mentoring young players. She is also key player in the continued growth of the game in the region.
“I don’t think I’d be anywhere without Tahnee Norris,” Pilley said.
“Since the moment I played Opens, I’ve been playing at the Burleigh Bears with Tahnee and she has taught me so much.
“She has developed me and shaped me into the centre I am today. She’s always looking to improve, she’s always instilled confidence in me and had belief in me and put my name forward for things, and I really do believe that without Tahnee, I wouldn’t have been called into the Broncos side.
“So, I give full credit to her for developing me as a player and giving me the opportunities and the chance to play and put my name forward.
"I think she’s an incredible person to have as a mentor, so I’m very grateful to have Tahnee as the coach of my club.”
Pilley and her Burleigh Bears open their title defence this Sunday when they travel to Davies Park to take on the Magpies in Round 1 of the SEQW Division 1 competition.
The SEQW competition, which this season has expanded to seven teams and will include the Tweed Heads Seagulls for the first time, is a breeding ground for some of the best talent in Queensland and Pilley said her performances in the local competition were directly responsible for her opportunities to play on a national stage.
“I think our performance as a squad at Burleigh was what got me selected to play for the Broncos,” she said.
“From what I’ve learned at Burleigh, I was able to take that to the Broncos to again learn even more from the coaching staff there, so my game has developed ten-fold since being under the influence of all these amazing people and all the good vibes from coaching staff and team mates has gotten me to where I am at this stage in time.”