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'Very sentimental': The motivation behind Power's Origin campaign

For Shaniah Power, the words that she scrawls on her wrist tape pre-game hold a lot of meaning – even if she knows how funny those words can be to those on the outside.

The Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons backrower went viral after Game I of the women’s State of Origin series, after photos from the game showed “Rum + Coke” written on her wrist in thick, black marker.

From getting picked up by the popular Instagram account, The NRL Roast, to a shout out on The Late Show With Matty Johns, fans were wondering if Power was just a big fan of a particular drink or there was something more to it.

And for the 26-year-old, there is definitely a deeper meaning.

Shaniah Power makes a tackle on Millie Boyle in Game I of State of Origin, with her "Rum + Coke" wrist tape visible. Photo: NRL Imagery
Shaniah Power makes a tackle on Millie Boyle in Game I of State of Origin, with her "Rum + Coke" wrist tape visible. Photo: NRL Imagery

“It’s a nickname for my mum and dad that they got when they were young,” Power said with a laugh.

“People don’t use it now but I wanted to use it instead of writing mum and dad.

“My mother’s name is Rosemary and growing up her siblings had nicknamed her ‘Rum’ for short.

“She’s quite olive skinned and when she met dad, he was the first person in our family with dark skin. So, one of mum’s older brothers joked and called them rum and coke.

“I write rum and coke because I’m always wanting to make them proud. I haven’t been around much in the last couple of years having to relocate away from home.

“I get emotional writing that on my wrist, even though it’s a funny nickname. But the deeper meaning is very sentimental.”

Shaniah Power. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL
Shaniah Power. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL

For Bowen-born Power, she had to move away from home to make her rugby league dreams come true.

Generally based in Townsville, where she lives with her brother and sister-in-law, Power played this year’s BMD Premiership with the Wynnum Manly Seagulls and has played NRLW with the New Zealand Warriors – while based in Australia – as well as the Gold Coast Titans and Sydney Roosters.

This year she will get to stay in Townsville with the North Queensland Cowboys.

But with so much movement across Queensland and New South Wales, Power has spent a lot of time away from her family.

That’s why she writes “Rum + Coke” on her wrist tape. And why this week’s Game II in Townsville means so much to her.

Her parents have only been to one of her three Origin appearances so far – with Thursday’s clash No.4 – and one NRLW game, due to the distance of travel involved.

She said she knew if she ever asked them to come, they would get there anyway they could. But to have an Origin game in Townsville, so close to home, made it even more special.

“I’m feeling very blessed and very lucky to finally have a home game,” Power said.

“You see it all the time when there’s games in Brisbane or even for the girls who live in Sydney when we play there, all their family come down and it’s a huge event where they have 30-odd people around them wanting photos and I’ve never had that.

“I have quite a big family base up here, so hopefully a few turn up and then hopefully I turn up on game day and do them proud.”

Power returned to the Maroons in Game I. She made her debut in 2020 and earned a recall in 2021 but missed out on selection last year.

She is named again for Game II and said after the opening match of the series in Sydney, she now felt she was “good enough” to wear maroon.

The star forward – who had a strong season in BMD Premiership – said she had questioned whether she belonged in the Origin arena, but with more time in the squad and the team environment, she could see what others saw in her.

“Sometimes I kind of doubt and think that I’m not quite good enough to be in this space,” Power said.

“I was very, very nervous coming into (Game I) but on game day I was pretty relaxed. I feel like I did my job pretty well.

“I made a couple of errors but that reflected over the whole game across both teams with the weather conditions and everyone not having played for a few weeks to months.

“Now I feel like I really did my job for the team and that I am good enough.

“State of Origin is actually the hardest game that you can even play. The girls who go away to World Cup who play for Australia, they go up against teams that don’t have as much experience.

“But Origin, both teams are the best in Australia and Australia has the biggest rugby league base. You’re really going up against the best players in each state.

“That’s probably why I felt that way and last year I didn’t make the cut.

“Coming back into this space, I was definitely a bit nervous. The calibre of girls just in the Queensland squad… they’ve obviously got high expectations of the girls in the group with them.

“There’s a certain level of experience and talent when you come into this space so you have to come with the confidence that you’ve been picked for a reason.”

And for Game II, with her newfound confidence and her tight family unit behind her, Power is heading in with her eyes on the prize.

After winning Game I, Queensland just need to win Game II or lose by less than eight points to claim the 2023 Origin shield.

But for Power and the rest of the team, losing is not an option. They’re going for 2-0.

“Game II is going to be a lot more consistent and it will have a better roll on compared to Game I,” Power said.

“We have to stay in the grind. NSW will come up with a point to prove and a bit of extra fire in their belly to take that back.

“But Tahnee said we’re going for two wins, not just going to try and go off points. We’re there to win both games and we have the group of girls to do it.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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