Women's Interstate Challenge Preview
New South Wales head to Cbus Super Stadium full of confidence for Saturday's match despite never defeating Queensland in the 17-year history of the Women's Interstate Challenge.
Last year's 4-4 draw has revitalised the Blues' resolve and in conjunction with new pathways created for women playing the game in NSW, there is a lot of momentum building. But this Queensland team has been even more dominant than their male counterparts and they'll be expecting to extend their winning streak for a few more years.
Watch out NSW: With captain Steph Hancock partnering Heather Ballinger in the front-row and setting the tone in the middle of the field, Queensland have a formidable pack that likes to dictate terms. The return of former Jillaroos halfback Ali Brigginshaw is a huge boost after she broke her leg in three places. The halfback controls the game better than anyone in Women's football and has a lethal combination with back-rower Renae Kunst.
Karina Brown played on the wing for the Jillaroos in the mid-year Test and scored an amazing solo try. She'll be looking to have even more involvement at the back and will be a handful every time she gets the ball.
Watch out Queensland: NSW have seven players who all play for Cronulla-Caringbah at club level and the tried and tested combinations could give the Blues an edge under pressure.
The fact they have the current Jillaroos halves combination of Allana Ferguson and Maddie Studdon as well as superstar fullback Samantha Bremner and an all-Jillaroo back-row of Kezie Apps, Vanessa Foliaki and Simaima Taufa means this NSW team is the best they have ever fielded.
Key match-ups: Steph Hancock v Ruan Sims. The opposing captains line-up looking to gain dominance in the middle of the field. These two will try to lead from the front and carry their team to victory.
Ali Brigginshaw v Allana Ferguson: The former Jillaroo five-eighth lines-up against the incumbent in an intriguing battle of playmakers. Brigginshaw has caught the eye of Andrew Johns by the way she plays and is able to manage a game, while Ferguson has impressed many since her return to the code from rugby sevens.
Karina Brown v Samantha Bremner: Both fullbacks are incredibly fast and strong ball carriers and they'll be looking to isolate tired defenders by chiming into the backline at the right moment. Don't be surprised to see both on the scoresheet at full-time.
Renae Kunst v Kezie Apps: Two of the toughest players you are likely to find on a rugby league field. Kunst and Apps will look to make a big impact on this game in both attack and defence. It should be fun to watch.
The History: Queensland have been completely dominant in the Interstate Challenge, winning 16 in a row before last year's draw.
How to watch: NSWRL.com.au will stream the game live at 3.10pm, Fox Sports will show a replay of the contest on Sunday at 6:30pm.
This article first appeared on NRL.com