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'The energy and the impact': Manzelmann ready to fire on home turf

Emma Manzelmann will be in her element come Thursday.

The proud north Queenslander has been counting down the days to this week’s Women's State of Origin decider in Townsville, ready to run out on home turf.

The Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons interchange hooker is Mackay born and bred, plays for the Mackay Cutters in the BMD Premiership and for the North Queensland Cowboys, with Queensland Country Bank Stadium her HQ for the NRLW season.

After a standout performance in Game I of this year’s series – bringing a strong impact off the bench – Manzelmann felt she was a bit quieter in cold and wet conditions in Newcastle, with Game II played through a downpour.

Seeing that difference within herself, the 22-year-old is determined to turn things around on Thursday and knows going home will be the perfect inspiration – even if there is a little rain predicted again.

Manzelmann in action at training on Monday night. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL
Manzelmann in action at training on Monday night. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL

“I had a better Game I than Game II,” Manzelmann said.

“I don’t know if it was the weather conditions and me not liking the cold, but I can’t really blame that.

“I felt like I still played well but I just had more opportunities to be able to run in Game I. With Game II there were the weather conditions, not that many opportunities to run… I had a little mistake where your head drops a little bit, but you have to pick it back up.

“I feel like heading back up to Townsville, I might be back on again… in my element, back in the warm, back at home.”

Manzelmann. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL
Manzelmann. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL

Townsville played host to a record-breaking Origin match last June, with 18,275 in attendance – this has now been beaten with 25,492 at Suncorp Stadium for Game I and 25,782 in Newcastle for Game II.

In 2023, it was a two-game series and while Queensland lost in front of the home crowd in Townsville, they had done enough in Game I to secure the overall victory and claim the shield.

This year however, there will be no doubt.

If the Maroons get the win over New South Wales, they will retain the shield.

For Manzelmann, it’s important to do that in front of a Townsville crowd.

With a loss at Suncorp Stadium this year, Queensland haven’t won a game on home turf since the 2021 series at Sunshine Coast Stadium and they are hungry to turn that around come Thursday.

“It’s very exciting... I was obviously part of it last year and it felt so good to be at home, playing in Townsville and having a majority north Queensland crowd there with the record set for most people,” she said.

“It was a bit of a weird feeling last year knowing that we’d won the series but lost the game. It was a bit of a mixed feeling like yes, we’re happy but no, we sort of weren’t because we lost the game.

“It’s important for the crowd to know that yes, we win and then we win the series.

“To take it back up there for Game III, I think we can break the (crowd attendance) record again and beat Newcastle’s crowd record and showcase that north Queensland loves their footy.”

Beyond this series, Manzelmann wants to help the Cowboys qualify for this year’s NRLW finals and to get in a Test match with the Australian Jillaroos.

But, for now, her sights are set firmly and solely on the task ahead.

It’s the first ever three-game series for the women and she knows what’s on the line in front of her home region.

“I’d love to see us win State of Origin III and keep the shield on home turf,” she said.

“I’m just so honoured to even pull on the Queensland jersey but to be part of this historical moment, it means everything.

“I can see so many people wanting to be part of this position or this team but I’m grateful to have this opportunity.

“My job, it’s to bring the energy and impact off the bench. I need to bring that speed and get the forwards running onto the ball and hold my own in defence.”

Main image: Manzelmann at training. Photo: Scott Davis/QRL

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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