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'They schooled us': Teenage rivals set to collide in NRLW decider

Teenage sensations Jesse Southwell and Chantay Kiria-Ratu headline the NRLW's next generation of stars with the pair set to renew their rivalry on Sunday in the grand final at Accor Stadium.

Kiria-Ratu was a gun touch footballer in Queensland growing up before switching to rugby sevens, a similar path taken by Southwell (NSW) with the pair often going head-to-head on the representative stage.

The Titans were eager to blood Kiria-Ratu in the NRLW last season at age 17 in the same route the Knights were allowed to play Southwell after gaining an exemption – but they were denied by the NRL at the time.  

Kiria-Ratu hasn't missed a minute of action for the Titans in her rookie season, scoring two tries, setting up three and producing six linebreak assists, while Southwell has helped the Knights to a second consecutive grand final.

“She’s a little freak,” Southwell said of her opposite number this week.

“We’d always coming up against each other when we played against Queensland. They schooled us, and then we’d play again in sevens, and she'd carve us up.

“We’ve come through the ranks but never played with each other. She’s had a great season so it’s cool to see her come through and play in the NRLW.  

“There will be great match-ups across the park and a fun game with a lot of young girls playing in such a big game.”

Southwell supreme in win

Southwell said she was not surprised by the Titans upsetting the Roosters at Allianz Stadium to advance to their first-ever grand final just hours after the Knights beat the Broncos in front of a record standalone NRLW crowd.

“The Titans have been a good side all year. The Roosters, and it’s not shade towards them, but I haven’t really seen them fight back being a try or two down. There wasn’t a lot of resolve.

“It wasn’t a shocking result. I expected them to get through based on how their season went but the Titans are a great side and never quit.

“In the round games they were always thereabouts against us and we need to be wary of that.”

Another big performance on rugby league’s greatest days is set to push Southwell into the calculations for an Australian jersey next month but the 18-year-old was more excited about playing in a grand final alongside older sister Hannah.

The Knights captain missed last year's decider due to injury and watched as the club won its maiden premiership. 

“I’m really not too bothered,” Jesse said of possible Jillaroos selection.

“It’s not the most important thing to me at the moment. I think there are a lot of things going on in that Jillaroos space.

Southwell sisters talk success and second chances

“I doubt I’ll be in contention at all. It would be an honour, obviously, but Ali [Brigginshaw] is in some form and there are a lot of girls playing well.

“It’s not on my radar. If I do get a chance I’ll be stoked but if I don’t then no worries."

Any talk though that Southwell is too young to wear the green and gold though was quickly hosed.

“I don’t see myself as a baby anymore," she said.

"I feel like we’re past that point. I’ve been called a baby forever. I would hope that’s not a reason for keeping me out of a squad because of age.”

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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