This time last year, Jillaroos backrower Talesha Quinn was copping plenty and not just from opposition packs.
Based on the fact the Parkes product now calls Sydney home and plays a lot of her footy in the Sutherland Shire, Quinn was last year forced to play in the city side that competed for NSW Blues jumpers.
Her country origin was, seemingly, all but forgotten.
“... and I copped a lot of flack from my family over that,” Quinn laughs.
“But being able to play in the first Southern team this weekend is really exciting. I can’t wait, and either can my family.”
Quinn’s not the only one excited either.
One of four Jillaroos – fullback Sam Bremner has been ruled out through injury - named to play for Southern against Northern in the NSW Country trial at Mudgee this Saturday, Quinn will be joined by five of Western’s most promising women at Glen Willow.
Bec Ford, Ella-J Harris, Haylee Lepaio, Sally Dwyer and Grace Mooney all shone at the southern trials at Yass and now get a shot at making a full-blown NSW Country team if they again stand out at Mudgee.
And, ask Quinn, all it takes is “one good game” to get noticed.
“Seeing these girls on Sunday, any of them can make it,” Quinn said, the southern team assembled at Yass last Sunday for a training run.
“It was such a good run, everyone fitted in.”
She said all of the Western girls will start in the southern team, which is a huge boon for both the Rams quintet named and the standard of the fledgling Western Women’s Rugby League premiership, which will stage its grand finals on the afternoon after the country trial.
“Bec has the skills, you can just tell she’s played a lot of touch, and Haylee, she’s a weapon. The girls from Western were great,” Quinn said.
“There’s some Jillaroos girls there and that experience is exciting.
“Ru (Ruan Sims) was giving out tips and the girls are excited by that sort of experience in the team. They were all taking it on board.”
Quinn, too, was excited about playing with Harris and Dwyer, both girls she knows from her days in Parkes.
It’s obviously a chance she didn’t get last year.
But it’s also a sign of how far the women’s game has come in such a short period of time.
The path to the top is clear and Quinn says NSW Country jumpers, and potentially NSW Blues jerseys after that, are definitely within the grasp of the Rams girls.
On top of that, the newly formed NRL Women’s Premiership, which will be run in September, gifts players the chance to play more top-level rugby league.
The top 40 players in the country have already been identified to play with the Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos, New Zealand Warriors and St George Illawarra Dragons.
“And there’s still potentially, like, 30 spots to pick up, these girls in this Southern team could be part of the first ever NRL comp,” Quinn said.
“It only takes one game to stand-out.”
Which, Quinn hopes to do as well, naturally.
And she’s banking on being able to do it in front of a stack of family from Parkes, family that’s no doubt thrilled to see Quinn bonning the maroon and gold rather than any form of city jumper.
“I’m pretty sure it’ll be an amazing game,” she said.
Spots for the NSW Country team go on the line when Southern takes on Northern from 10.30am at Mudgee’s Glen Willow on Saturday.
- COUNTRY SOUTHERN: Ella-J Harris (Western), Emma Hickey (Riverina), Gab Suckling (Yass), Georgie Brooker (Cronulla Caringbah), Grace Mooney (Western), Haylee Lepaio (Western), Jamie Ann-Wright (Corrimal), Kezie Apps (Helensburgh)*, Maddison Perceval (Helensburgh), Mikayla Malaki (Corrimal), Lauretta Leao-Seve (Riverina), Bec Ford (Western), Ruan Sims (Cronulla Caringbah)*, Rikeya Horne (Corrimal), Sally Dwyer (Western), Samantha Bremner (Helensburgh)*, Shakiah Tungai (Avondale), Shannon Pike (Riverina), Talesha Quinn (Cronulla Caringbah)*, Vanessa Foliaki (Brisbane Easts)*