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'This is where I want to be': Weale thriving in Maroons environment

Makenzie Weale is exactly where she wants to be.

The Mackay Cutters forward was called into the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons squad one week ago, named as a late inclusion at 19th player.

She came into camp with the team on Friday and - as she looks around at her teammates - the 20-year-old can see her path forward.

“I’ve said to a lot of people, this is where I want to be,” Weale said.

“Having girls like Keils (Keilee Joseph) who were in the squad last year but didn’t play and now they’re playing … it just shows that you want to be in the squad rather than not.

“Being around everyone, getting to know (coach Tahnee Norris) a bit more, all the girls a bit more and just knowing how everyone plays and the expectations … You’re closer to being there if you’re in the squad.”

Makenzie Weale. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL
Makenzie Weale. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL

Weale was a standout for the Cutters in their inaugural BMD Premiership season, playing at both prop and in the second row, and took out the club’s Best Forward and Players’ Player awards.

She had previously played with the West Brisbane Panthers and had her first NRLW stint with the Newcastle Knights in 2022, but has signed with the North Queensland Cowboys for the upcoming season.

Having also come through Queensland Rugby League’s representative pathways – playing for Queensland Under 19s in 2021 – and with some rugby sevens experience, Weale is not feeling too overawed coming into Maroons camp.

She said Norris called her last Monday with the news, after thinking she had originally missed the squad before Queensland were able to add a 19th player, and she came in with no expectations except to soak up everything and learn from the talent around her.

“I had heard that my name was being thrown around from my (Mackay) coaches but I never really had any expectations,” Weale said of her call up to the Maroons squad.

“It was good enough to just be mentioned in there but I was never expecting to actually be there.

“I have played against or with a few of the girls so it’s been really good coming in.

“I played with Keilee in Under 16 SEQ so it’s been kind of cool to watch her grow and do that. Same with China. I’ve played with her - we started at sevens together. Em Manzelmann … we were at Newy together and have clicked and kicked it off.

“It’s just good to be around everyone and I’m really interested to play with Ali (Brigginshaw). I’ve never been around her, I’ve always been against her.

“Someone of that level, it’s interesting to hear what she has to say and what she has to put in … the values and expectations of the team and what needs to be done and getting in there and getting it done.

“It’s been really good to come in and already feel slightly comfortable.”

Emma Manzelmann and Makenzie Weale. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL
Emma Manzelmann and Makenzie Weale. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL

Weale will travel to Sydney with the team on Wednesday, ahead of the opening match of the two-game series on Thursday, June 1.

Being No.19, Weale will be on standby at CommBank Stadium, but if she doesn't make it onto the field now or in game two in Townsville, it is not something she is fazed by.

She is just happy to be there.

“My expectations for both games are more or less the same,” Weale said.

“I’m just happy to be around it. If I was to play, it would be absolutely amazing. But I’m in the squad so that’s the least I can ask for at the moment.”

Main image: Makenzie Weale at Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons training. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL

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