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Grand final spotlight: Cutters utility Alisha Foord

Alisha Foord has a team-first mentality.

Traditionally a playmaker, this year in the BMD Premiership, Foord has taken on a new role for the Mackay Cutters, adopting the No.9 duties for the majority of games while also dabbling at lock.

To do so, the 27-year-old has had to bulk up, learn new techniques and prepare herself for more of a grind.

And this Saturday, when the 2024 minor premiers go into the premiership decider against the Norths Devils at Kayo Stadium, Foord will wear another new jersey, this time named to start at lock with Cutters captain and No.9 Emma Manzelmann back from injury and State of Origin duties.

While it could be a task that is daunting for some, for Foord it is simply a matter of mindset – she will switch it up for whatever her team needs most.

Foord in action in last week's semi-final. Photo: Ben Van Moolenbroek/QRL
Foord in action in last week's semi-final. Photo: Ben Van Moolenbroek/QRL

“(Coach Marco Peters) tells me I’m a utility player and, for me, I’m happy to play wherever to put the team first,” she said.

“It’s mainly just about knowing the role of each position and just switching my mind.

"This year I had a position change into hooker... I’ve also been jumping into lock so I’ve had a little bit of a taste at lock but never started a game there. 

“This week I will train in that position and flip my mindset to play lock. I know I will I have to play hard and fast and contact-first.

“It’s going to be a tough game in the middle so I need to be ready to take on tough carries and get into the tough grind.

“When we versed (Norths) last time, it was a grind. It was back and forth - they got momentum then we’d get momentum.

“We have to move up as a connected line because they have quick and agile outside backs. They’re also going to come out fast and try to win the middle."

A proud north Queenslander, Townsville-born Foord has also adapted so well to her positional changes this year not just because of her loyalty to her team, but also because she is thriving in the middle.

Even when she was playing in the halves, one of the aspects of rugby league that she savoured most was getting stuck in in defence, and she has been able to do that a lot more this season.

“With the position change, I had to put a bit more weight on and focus on the middle part of the field and I’ve really loved it,” she said.

“I’m playing with confidence so hopefully I can stay in that part of the field.

“I’ve always loved tackling. Whenever I’m in the halves I find myself wanting to tackle more. I want that grind back and forth and I love those hard yards in the middle of the field.”

Foord first played rugby league when she was in primary school as one of the only girls on the team. She then went to an all-girls high school where league was no longer an option, so she switched up to touch football and basketball.

She pursued basketball for a while but when she realised the pathways for her where no longer there, she followed in the footsteps of a couple women she worked with and returned to rugby league in 2020.

She was only a few games into her comeback when she was scouted for former BMD Premiership club, the North Queensland Gold Stars.

“It was a bit of a shock,” she said of her elevation to BMD Premiership.

“I only played my second or third club game when I was scouted. I look back and it’s gone really, really quick and it’s happened so fast.

“I am slowly improving each year. It’s been a quick change from club footy to where I am now.”

Foord and her Cutters teammates are now on the brink of history.

In 2022 the Gold Stars claimed the BMD Premiership title over the Central Queensland Capras.

Then in 2023, the Gold Stars transitioned into the Mackay Cutters in a bid to align clubs across Queensland Rugby League’s statewide competitions.

Under the Cutters branding, they are now chasing their first women’s premiership for the club.

Foord was 18th player in the 2022 premiership decider so is relishing the opportunity to play in her first grand final this Saturday.

“It means a lot,” she said.

“Being from north Queensland, it means a lot to put on any jersey to represent the north.

“Being part of that squad last time, it made you realise how good it would be to be out there on the field.

“To put on the jersey this year, to go out and start the game or even just play in the game, it’s a great achievement.

“After my NRLW debut, to win this one would be my second biggest career highlight. To look at where I come from to now, to get the win it would mean so much.”

Main image: Foord scores a try in last week's semi-final. Photo: Ben Van Moolenbroek/QRL

Catch all the BMD Premiership grand final action live and free at and Kayo Freebies from 2pm.

The match will kick off at 2.10pm at Redcliffe's Kayo Stadium.

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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