Lyllian and Tyesha Mikaio are making history for Queensland - but this may just be the beginning.
The girls from Woodridge will become the first sisters to play for Queensland Under 18 Girls when they run onto North Sydney Oval as the curtain-raiser for the women’s State of Origin clash on Friday night.
Eighteen-year-old Lyllian will lead out the side as the captain, while younger sister Tyesha, 17, is following quite literally in her big sister’s footsteps.
“It’s definitely a big role, being captain for a representative side,” Lyllian said.
“We are making history with the first girls Under 18s Origin team, and to get to captain that team is a massive honour to not only put the jersey on, but to also lead the girls out.”
Tyesha has every confidence in her sister’s leadership.
“I am used to looking up to her, and she always leads by example. It’s really good that the other girls get to see what kind of leader she is,” Tyesha said. “And, how bossy she can get,” she added with a cheeky smile.
“For me it’s really special to be part of the first ever girls Under 18s team and to do that beside my sister is even more special.”
They both describe their relationship as “love-hate” but it is clear there is much more love than there is hate.
Tyesha will play in the centre, while Lyllian is a prop forward, but these girls are so similar in every other aspect - finishing each other’s sentences, shared goals and a mutual respect for each other and their family.
A year and two weeks apart, it is inevitable that Tyesha will follow in Lyllian’s footsteps but it’s a path Tyesha is proud of rather than begrudging her sister for getting there first.
Lyllian graduated from Keebra Park State High School last year; Tyesha will graduate this year.
Both girls started playing rugby sevens. Lyllian made the switch to rugby league and Tyesha followed about a year later.
Lyllian, playing for Souths Logan’s women’s team, has been involved in NRL and representative camps, inspiring Tyesha, who is at St Brendan’s, to set goals of her own to do the same.
Lyllian playing in open’s just a year after she joined rugby league was a result of mentorship from one of the Maroons’ legends, Steph Hancock.
“I had just had my first season of league and the next year, Steph wanted me up in open’s. I had no experience at all; I just knew to run the ball and tackle,” Lyllian recalled.
“She became my mentor, she worked with my mum at the police and she helped get me to Souths Logan.
“I began looking up to her from then.”
It has been a surreal feeling to be in Camp Maroon with the women’s State of Origin team, but the highlight came once again from Hancock.
"She spoke to me the other day, telling me that she was proud that I was captain,” Lyllian said.
“That was a really good feeling. I’ve never dreamed of being in Under 18s Origin camp or wearing the Queensland jersey, so just hearing that from someone who has been my mentor from the very beginning and who is a legend of Queensland rugby league is just so special.”
Tyesha is taking every opportunity to surround herself with the same idols and mentors, even attending Souths Logan training sometimes with her sister.
“Meg (Ward) and Steph and the Maroons girls deserve to be here, they always do everything at 100 per cent and it shows just how much they really want it.”
There is no hesitation from either of the Mikaio girls when asked if NRLW and women’s State of Origin is in their sights.
Lyllian was named in the women’s training squad before she was announced in the Under 18 side and said there was a lot more to learn before she was at that level. But, her younger sister is confident she will one day achieve that goal too and hopes to again follow in her footsteps.
“I actually don’t mind following in Lyllian’s footsteps,” Tyesha said. “I know how far she has come and that is because of her dedication to training, her ethics, the extra one per cent.
“It makes me want to go harder. She has shown with all the camps she has attended with open’s that age doesn’t really matter.”
Match: NSW U18s Women v QLD U18s Women
Round 1 -
NSW U18s Women
QLD U18s Women
Venue: North Sydney Oval, Sydney