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Broncos fullback Tamika Upton.

Exactly this time 12 months ago, Tamika Upton was on the phone to Jillaroos coach Brad Donald explaining her reasoning behind knocking back the chance to represent her country on the big stage.

After already taking too much annual leave during her time at the Broncos for last year's NRLW campaign, one of the game's best rising stars had little choice but to withdraw from the World Cup 9s.

Upton's decision may sting slightly harder now with no international matches scheduled this season, with the 2021 World Cup her next best chance of donning the green and gold.

But fast forward a year and the Rockhampton local has put everything in place off the paddock to give herself the best chance of achieving her long-term representative goals.

The 23-year-old switched to a fresh job that caters to her part-time sporting demands and moved to Souths Logan for club footy in July.

Upton slices through from a sweeping backline movement

"It was disappointing to withdraw from the Jillaroos last year but I feel like I'm just starting and hopefully it's something I can work towards again," Upton told NRL.com.

"I was working full-time in admin at a hospital, had too much time off and it was hard with night shift."

Upton has moved in with Millie Boyle during her stay in the club's makeshift bubble with the Broncos forward also hosting Romy Teitzel.  

Upton electric as she gets a first half hat-trick

Boyle joked she'd been cooking up a "Jamie Oliver-style" storm for Upton, who is looking to put on some muscle as part of her physical development as a fullback.

"She's been feeding me very well," Upton said of Boyle's efforts.

"She cooked a really good tuna mornay the other night … she is actually really good at just throwing anything together, I give her that.

"I've wanted to put a little bit of weight on just to get a bit consistent. With all the running we do I drop weight quite easily. I was a bit hesitant at first but don't worry about it now. It's all part of the game."

 
 
 
 
 
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Round 1 ready with the roomies ❤️ #rockclimbers

A post shared by Tamika Upton (@tamikaupton) on

Last weekend the NRLW produced its highest-scoring opening round so far with an aggregate of 64 points across two games – up from 48 and 46 in the past two seasons respectively.

Upton's three-try heroics were at the forefront of the highlights to start the third competition but ahead of her fifth appearance for the Broncos, she's chasing more.

"I feel I've got a lot to learn [as a fullback] but I also think the stuff I'm trying to focus on I am picking up relatively well," she said.  

Dragons v Broncos - Round 2

"A guy like Clint Gutherson is so good at organising his team, his defence is very good and he talks a lot.

"I'm getting there [with the talk], I don't have really have an option anymore. I have to be a big talker now."