Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons veteran Rona Peters is well known for her big hits on the field, but it is her continued influence on the next generation of talent that’s leaving its mark.
While Peters is one of the oldest members of the 19-player squad preparing to face New South Wales on Friday night, she’s found an unlikely ally in the team’s youngest member, her Origin camp room mate Tiana Raftstrand-Smith.
A member of the side that claimed the shield last year, Peters is an intimidating force on the footy field - but off it, she’s more than happy to sleep or rest up during her downtime, a common trait she shares with her new team mate.
“I think I’m the oldest in the team and I’ve been paired with the youngest in the team [Tiana Raftstrand-Smith] and she’s pretty quiet and so am I.
“If I have downtime, I’ll pretty much just sleep or do nothing and she’s quite similar, so it’s quite funny,” Peters said.
The 33-year old’s wealth of experience is set to be an invaluable asset to the current crop of up-and-coming talent within the squad, regardless of whether she takes the field on game night.
“I have represented at a high level in the game for a long time now and since the game has grown so much, I think I do have a lot to offer the young players coming through even if it’s just being around them all,” Peters said.
“With all the new faces and fresh legs and new talent coming through the squad it’s been great, it’s a really good squad with a good vibe.”
Falcons help Maroons test out their plays
Born in New Zealand, this year is the sixth consecutive Origin campaign for Queensland for Peters.
After retiring from all future Kiwi Ferns commitments in 2015, Peters moved to Brisbane; and since making her move to Queensland, she has been instrumental in growing the game in her local Gold Coast community, helping establish the Runaway Bay women’s team.
Peters also represents Tweed Seagulls in the BHP Premiership while still lining up for her local club Runaway Bay each week.
Peters said her decision to help establish a strong women’s side at Runaway Bay was largely aimed at providing opportunities for the next generation of female rugby league players.
“There’s not really that many teams down in the Gold Coast, there’s only really Tweed and Burleigh to choose from so some girls miss out on opportunities.”
“Having us at Runaway Bay has just opened doors for a lot of girls…as it just gives some more girls an opportunity if they want to be a Queensland rep or an NRL superstar.”
Having sat out last year’s NRLW season, Peters is still unsure of where her playing commitments will lie after this week’s game.
“My body is probably telling me to stop, but my mind is telling me to keep going and going,” Peters said.
“At this stage, I’m just going to take it one task at a time, if I land myself an NRLW gig, then I do, but no doubt I’ll give it my all no matter what.”
The Ampol State of Origin match featuring the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons and New South Wales takes place this Friday night at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Match: QLD Maroons v NSW Women
Round 1 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast