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Clark’s commitment rewarded in ‘rollercoaster’ year

Bri Clark has “no complaints” about how the 2020 football season has panned out and is currently learning all she can as a member of the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons 2020 squad.

Clark – who was born in Brisbane, but moved up to Mackay when she was two – is enjoying camp at Twin Waters with her fellow squad members and has been rewarded after taking everything this year threw at her in her stride.

During the off-season, Clark got a taste to what to expect in Origin camp after being selected in the Queensland Female Performance Program squad, which helped put her in the right direction to earn her call-up to the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons squad. 

“It’s nice to have that initial acquaintance and you can build on that, especially in the two weeks that we are here, it helps a lot,” Clark said. 

Originally starting the football season with West Brisbane Panthers in the BHP Premiership; when the COVID-19 shutdown hit, Clark returned home to North Queensland; but was soon racking up the air miles; flying-in and flying-out each weekend to join her Panthers teammates in the Holcim Cup.  

“It was a rollercoaster (this year), we had a solid pre-season with Panthers pre-COVID, it was all pretty good, and then COVID happened and there was no footy and sort of wasn’t enjoying my job and everything, so I thought I would head home and be an aunty again, and fill my cup again,” Clark said of the start to her 2020 campaign.

“I came home (to Mackay), got fit again and found out that the Holcim Cup was going to go ahead and I was like ‘well, I’m up here! It’s going to be tough’, but I was going to do what I had to do.

“But the QRL helped me out a lot and got me down so I could play in the same comp as all the other girls.

“(However) I didn’t get to train with my team, so it was a bit tough, it didn’t help, but it obviously worked out and when I got the call from Brad (Donald) from the (New Zealand) Warriors that took a huge weight off my shoulders because I hadn’t really had anything else from the NRL, so I thought I was going to miss out again this year.

“But I just had the best experience, I can’t even explain how good the experience was, and then to get the call to confirm I was in the squad with the Maroons; it just topped it off, so I have no complaints about the footy this year, I have been riding it out and it’s been working for me.”

While Clark was able to fly-in and fly-out for games, fellow north Queensland player and 2020 Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons squad member Shaniah Power took a different path and moved to Brisbane to also play with the Panthers.

Part of the North Queensland Gold Stars squad this year, Power joined Clark in making her NRLW debut with the Warriors this season and it was there they began to form their strong friendship.

“I have known a little bit about who she is and we have been at camps and stuff; she made it to Warriors too and that just hit us off big time, we clicked a lot and it’s been nice to have someone familiar,” Clark said.

“Because I didn’t get to train with (the Panthers) in Brisbane, I hadn’t built that relationship with her until later down the track.

“She’s not been home since July, so hats off to her; that would be tough and she is a homebody and she really misses her family.”

Shaniah Power at Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons training. Photo: Nathan Hopkins / NRL Images
Shaniah Power at Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons training. Photo: Nathan Hopkins / NRL Images

But for now, both players have plenty of work to do and are pushing for selection in the final 17-player team for the Maroons.

One player who has had plenty of experience for Queensland is Brittany Breayley, another who hails from Mackay and one who played a big part in inspiring Clark.

“It’s just good to have someone semi-familiar around the camp; she’s always so happy and bubbly, she’s down to earth, it’s really good to have someone like her here,” Clark said.

“I played with her in my first year of footy, I had Britto and Renae (Kunst) in my team and I idolised them.

“I had seen them and read about (them), and they had helped make all the pathways; they moved from Mackay down to Brisbane and paved the way for me; and (showed me) that it works and that I am capable of doing it to.”