Women’s State of Origin 2020: Skipper Ali Brigginshaw determine to end Maroons dire record

Queensland skipper Ali Brigginshaw has revealed the Maroons are not just on a mission to get State of Origin revenge, but to show NSW why they should be afraid of their northern rivals.

Brigginshaw will lead out her Maroons teammates in the third official women’s State of Origin on Friday night at Sunshine Coast Stadium – the first time Queensland have been able to host the blockbuster showdown.

With the clash previously known as the interstate challenge before the switch to Origin in 2018, it has been a long five years since Queensland last tasted victory.

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Brittany Breayley, Ali Brigginshaw and Zahara Temara are ready to face the Blues.Source:News Limited

The two sides drew in 2015, before NSW embarked on a four-year run, claiming ownership of both Origin trophies to date.

But Brigginshaw is ready to see change on Friday night.

She said for the last few years she has felt Queensland were just as good on paper, but they couldn’t stand up to an imposing NSW outfit.

Now it’s time to flip that attitude and instil fear in their opponents.

“This game is the hardest game you’ll ever play,” Brigginshaw said of Origin.

“The Australian Jillaroos is the pinnacle but Queensland versus NSW is the strongest and most competitive game you’ll see.

“They know what you do, they know your plays, they know how to get under your skin so you have to rise to another level.

“That’s where we need the Queensland girls to stand up and not be afraid of who they’re playing against.

“They should be scared to play us. We have to be aggressive if we want to win.”

Ali Brigginshaw knows how painful it is to see NSW win State of Origin.Source:News Corp Australia

The Maroons are expected to field seven debutants, in one of the biggest shake ups to their team in several years.

There has also been more responsibility on Brigginshaw and her fellow veterans such as Steph Hancock, Karina Brown, Tallisha Harden and Annette Brander this week.

And one of the most important lessons the women have had to pass on to the fresh faces is why they should hate NSW and how painful it is to see the Blues hoist the shield.

“Those girls that haven’t been there before and seen NSW hold up the trophy, they just have to listen when we say it’s the worst feeling you can feel,” Brigginshaw said.

“You don’t want to see them hold that trophy. It’s really tough when you know you have the team to win but you end up seeing them hold the trophy because they wanted to win more than us.”

Huge double boost for NSW

– Jocelyn Airth

They were battered and bruised, but Kezie Apps and Isabelle Kelly are always blue.

Both NSW stars have overcome injuries just in time for Friday night’s Women’s State of Origin showdown against Queensland, inspired by the chance to fight for their state.

NSW captain Apps knows that taking on Ali Brigginshaw’s Maroons on the Sunshine Coast will be tough, but she’s confident the Blues will make it five wins in a row.

Isabelle Kelly and Kezie Apps are ready for Friday night.Source:Supplied

“Hearing a few people writing me off, saying I’m not going to make it, that’s fuelled the fire,” Apps said.

“Just being a part of the Origin team, being back around the girls, it means so much to me. It’s a different fuel and a different fire in your belly … another opportunity to put that jersey on, it means everything.”

Last month, Apps and Kelly both succumbed to injury in St George Illawarra’s NRLW round two clash.

Apps remembers thinking the worst, when she went down clutching her knee.

“I thought I’d broken my leg,” she said.

“I’ve broken my other leg twice before, and it felt very similar to that. Then it transferred across the other side towards my knee.

“We don’t get many opportunities to showcase our skills and hard work. I was gutted, it was hard to take.”

Fortunately, scans revealed that Apps suffered a grade 2 medial cruciate ligament tear, with expected recovery time of four to six weeks.

“I did all the calculations, I had four weeks and six days until we played Origin,” Apps said.

“When I spoke to the physio and surgeon, they said I may need surgery. But if (the ligament) stiffened up, I’d have a chance to play.”

Kezie Apps limps off after succumbing to a knee injury.Source:News Corp Australia

Apps was meticulous with her exercises and saw her physiotherapist daily.

She entered the Blues’ camp wearing a large leg brace and linked up with the perfect rehab buddy in Kelly, who was recovering from her own ankle injury sustained during an ugly hair-pull tackle by Bronco Amber Hall.

“I was devastated, I didn’t know what I had done … I’d played all year and wanted to play my best footy for NRLW and I got injured in our second game,” Kelly said.

“Origin is what I was thinking about.”

Kelly and Apps put their heads down and worked towards their tight Origin deadline.

“We’re always checking in with each other … seeing how well she‘s going makes me happy and push harder, and vise versa,” Apps said.

“And everything between us is a competition, too, so we’re always trying to beat each other, have a bit of health competition between us to push ourselves.”

Kelly feared the worst after an ankle injury.Source:Getty Images

Kelly said that she’s feeling fit and ready to go.

“It’s always a humbling experience … it’s the next level up and it’s the toughest game that I’ve played, it certainly will be tough on Friday night,” Kelly said.

“But I feel the best I’ve felt in this team for a long time, with how we’re going and training.”

After another successful NRLW season featuring talent young and old, the two Blues stars believe it is time for the elite competition to expand.

“If we don‘t get another team involved in the NRLW next year, we definitely need an expansion to playing each other twice,” Apps said.

“One game at that level just isn’t enough. We don’t get the opportunity to try and fix our errors and work on beating them. (The talent is) definitely there, we definitely need an expansion and would love to see another team involved as well.”

Originally published asMaroons ready to flip script after years of second best

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