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Dally M winner Brigginshaw craves third NRLW title

The social media comments came in thick and fast, but this week Ali Brigginshaw had a reason to smile.

"Finally". "About time". "A long time coming", they read.

Long regarded as one of the best players in the women's game, Brigginshaw now finally has the Dally M Medal recognition to show for it.

Few could argue of the 30-year-old's status in the game but her success at Monday night's Dally M awards evening ended a three-year individual award drought. 

Her last major personal award came in 2017 – where she was named player of the World Cup final for the Jillaroos.

Since then the Broncos captain has been overlooked on the big stage at the NRLW, Origin and international level for several categories.

"Sometimes when you're playing well people mention things you do good but I've never really been one to get awards," Brigginshaw told NRL.com.

"I usually just go out and play every game as tough as I can and hope we get the reward from a team performance, rather than an individual award. That's always been more important for me.

Brigginshaw awarded Dally M Female Player of the Year

"But this Dally M is a huge honour for me. It's been a bit of a personal goal of mine and is highly regarded in the men's game so I'm quite shocked to have achieved it this year especially with COVID-19 and the injury I had [earlier in the year] as well."

Brigginshaw was flocked by her Broncos teammates during Monday's announcement at Red Hill with her partner Kate and children Addison and Alfie watching on from home.

"I've found my life, I always say when you're happy off the field you play better on it," Brigginshaw said.

"Football is always a priority in footy season so you don't realise how much everyone else misses out. I'm very grateful to everyone who has been part of my journey."

No so happy, Ali

Brigginshaw was letting different types of comments fly towards the Roosters forward pack last week after one opponent got under the skin of the playmaking veteran.

Ask any NRLW player about what they've thought of the third season of the competition and they'll say the intensity and competitiveness has been at another level compared to previous years.

It was rare to see the usually calm Brigginshaw fire up after scoring the match-winning try with a trademark step close to the line.

Brigginshaw's Broncos will face the Roosters again in Sunday's NRLW grand final.

"One girl wrote some things on social media during the week and I was all for sticking up for my teammate," Brigginshaw said.

"It's one thing young girls need to learn in the game, to keep things off social media. We're all here to play the game and I just thought it was uncalled for.

"There's nothing against her off the field but I just knew on the field I needed to fire up for the team."

Brigginshaw knows when to show and when to go

Social media involvement for players in the women's game is rife, according to Brigginshaw, with several rules in place at the representative level to avoid disruption in camp.

"It's something we need to learn, that the game is out there now," she said.

"I don't read a lot of comments. I read some articles but it's what comes with playing on bigger stages and it's knowing how to deal with that as a player and person.

"I think there's more a massive issue in the game where partners or families throw comments out there and I don't think they need to.

"It paints a bad image on the player they're related to when they're not actually like that. Definitely something people should be mindful of more."

Match Highlights: Roosters v Broncos

Between the ears

The voices inside Brigginshaw's head are telling her the end is near, but physically she's feeling fresh as a daisy with a bold aim to play through until the 2025 World Cup.

"I feel great body-wise but when people are telling you 'oh you're 30 and there are young people coming through', it makes you second-guess," she says.

"But then I look at someone at Murph (Karyn Murphy), who played until she was 40, and I would love to be able to get close to that.

"Not that probably Kate would allow for that."

Part of Brigginshaw's longevity in the game could come down to a possible move to the forwards.

Broncos coach Kelvin Wright has switched the Ipswich junior to the lock position but allows her to maintain her playmaking ability under a new attacking structure.

"I always said I wanted to have a go and was up for the challenge," she said.

"When you have two girls who I regard as the two best halves in the competition in Raecene and Tarryn then why wouldn't I jump in the middle.

"I base my game around defence so trying to bring the confidence and line speed for the forwards is new and I'm sorer for the experience but I'm enjoying it."

'Anyone but the Broncos'

An NRLW three-peat is on the line this Sunday and Brigginshaw knows most outside of Queensland would prefer it not to happen given Brisbane's pure dominance of the competition over the past three years.

Brigginshaw can find the humour in it all but says like dominant NRL sides the Roosters and Storm, the Broncos' NRLW outfit has worked hard to maintain success despite losing key players.

"You look at our team every year and people leave us to go to other teams," she said.

"We have a core group who stay but the majority of our team is otherwise new and each year is different.

"Kelvin's coaching is also different this year with positions and we just take it week-by-week. That's where I don't think other teams have done so well.

"They look to grand final day and plan around that. But in a small season, it's like an Origin series – it's do-or-die. The grand final shouldn't mean anything until you're there.

"We want the girls who haven't won a premiership before to experience what that feels like, there's no better feeling. That's the motivation alone."