A difficult 12 months of private pain and personal change has given Queensland hooker Brittany Breayley a fresh outlook ahead of a return to the State of Origin arena.
The 2018 Dally M medal winner missed the 2020 NRLW season due to work and family commitments after her partner, former Kiwi Ferns five-eighth Kimiora Nati and two children, Kruthen and Marmie, moved to Brisbane earlier this year.
However, the biggest hurdle for the couple came last year when there were fears Nati had a serious heart condition. The issue was detected during St George Illawarra's 2019 NRLW campaign.
Twelve months on, the talented playmaker has since been cleared to return to the field. The good news also left Breayley with a clearer frame of mind.
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"It certainly threw a spanner in the works and a lot of things were up in the air around it," Breayley told NRL.com.
"I haven't had many injuries myself, touchwood, but having to deal with that with Kimi when I wasn't the one going through it was mentally draining, just not knowing how to support her or what to do to help keep her motivated.
"It was also really hard to adjust to full-time parenting at first but I think I've got the swing of it.
You can't say no to a Queensland jerseyMaroons hooker Brittany Breayley
"I had a bit of time off now that I have a little family and they're a priority for me so I thought with COVID and working from home, learning how to home school, it was time for me to put my family first and not play NRLW this year.
"It's hard being away from them for two weeks now so I couldn't have imagined having to do it for 6-8 weeks but we've continued to train hard and I'm really looking forward to getting back on the field."
Breayley played for Burleigh during the QRL's revamped Holcim Cup this season but hasn't played a match since September.
Queensland coach Jason Hetherington kept Breayley in contention for a spot and along with Rona Peters, who also withdrew from the NRLW this season, both will play key roles for the Maroons.
"I'm feeling really refreshed," Breayley said.
"Having no match fitness is going to be a bit of a downfall but it's one game back and when I was asked if I wanted to be part of the team again you can't say no to a Queensland jersey.
"I think there's enough fire in your belly to get you through a whole game. It's hard to explain, I'm getting goosebumps trying to explain it to you – just how much you put behind yourself when you put the Queensland jersey."
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Like all of her Maroons teammates who have experienced defeat at the hands of NSW in previous years, Breayley welcomed the opportunity to bring the annual fixture to the Sunshine Coast.
"It's amazing how much of a difference it makes when you're playing away from home," she said.
"To hear 'New South Wales' chanted and not being able to hear anything else is something you don't want to hear.
"I think it's well overdue and all the girls are looking forward to doing it for the state and bringing the trophy home."