At just 21 years of age it’s remarkable that the only major team trophy missing from Keilee Joseph’s CV is an Ampol Women’s State of Origin title.
Having already won a NRLW Premiership with the Roosters in the 2021 season (played last year due to COVID), the Brisbane-born forward enjoyed success with the Indigenous All Stars in 2022 before going on to be part of the Jillaroos’ World Cup winning squad.
Now after being named to debut for Queensland in next Thursday’s series opener against New South Wales at CommBank Stadium, Joseph is hunting more silverware in what has been an incredible first 14 months as a top-flight player.
“I still can’t believe that it’s happening, that I’m going to be starting in the front row in Origin,” she told NRL.com.
“[Queensland coach Tahnee Norris] was really happy with my back end of the season in the NRLW last year, and for me to go away and play Jillaroos as well I think was a big step, and she thinks now that I am ready for Origin.
“I am really happy that she believes in me.
I went from debuting last season in the NRLW to playing in the Australian team at the World Cup, so it was a big, big year for me.Keilee Joseph
“Just to be able to get that opportunity, I took it with both hands and took in every moment.”
A former Queensland U-19 captain, Joseph was among the NRLW’s best young forwards last season, averaging 149 run metres and 24 tackles across six games.
Keilee Joseph slices through the middle
In the Origin opener, which this year will be the first of two games in a series that will be decided by points aggregate if victories are split one apiece, Joseph will debut alongside fellow forward Sophie Holyman.
Born and raised in Tasmania before moving to Queensland in 2013, Holyman was for a long time not only a stranger to State of Origin, but rugby league in general, which she said was one of the few sports she didn’t get to play growing up.
After signing with the Broncos from rugby union last year, the 25-year-old made an immediate impact and was recognised with selection in the Australia Prime Minister’s XIII squad for the end of year match against Papua New Guinea.
On Thursday night she’ll be tasked with taking on the person who convinced her to convert to rugby league, Millie Boyle, in the opposing forward pack.
"I was living with [Millie] and Loz [Lauren] Brown… she was always telling me to make the switch over,” Holyman said.
"My first game for the Broncos last year, she was playing for Newcastle and I thought ‘this is so wrong isn’t it?’
“Now we will be facing off in Origin, but that’s all a part of it. We will be enemies on the field but off the field it’ll be a big hug and ‘well done’.”
Main photo credit: Zain Mohammed / QRL
Match: Sky Blues v Maroons
Game 1 -
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney