Origin Rivalry Put Aside as Jillaroos Ready for Kiwi Ferns
NSW centre Isabelle Kelly broke Queensland hearts with a two-try effort in this year's inaugural Women's Origin clash.
But the rising star insists the interstate rivalry has been put on hold – albeit only momentarily – as the Jillaroos gear-up for their clash with the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns on Saturday.
"The rivalry and the emotion of Origin has been pushed to the side a bit, it always is when we come in to Jillaroos camp," Kelly tells NSWRL.com.au.
"We all get along really well off the field... when we do go in to those Origin camps, it is a lot different. They're the girls that we're competing against, the ones we're trying to get the win over.
"But there's a lot of great friendships in this team, regardless from where the girls are from. I'm really looking forward to seeing what we produce on Saturday, we've got a really good bond here now."
Despite the recent NSW Womens' interstate dominance – unbeaten in Origin (nee Interstate Challenge) clashes since 2015 – just five members of the successful 2018 Blues outfit will represent the Jillaroos at the weekend.
But in a sign of the up-and-coming female talents in the state, four of the six named debutants-to-be boast NSW origins.
At just 22-years of age, Kelly – on the back of stand-out efforts in the 2017 Women's World Cup – says she is her embracing new-found leadership responsibilities in the Jillaroos setup.
"There's plenty of new faces, I'm really excited to see how all the debutants play," Kelly says.
"I probably do hold a bit of a leadership role now, if the girls need any help both on and off the field I'm happy to be that person there for them.
"It's our first Test since that [World Cup Final] win... no matter what the game or the occasion there's always bragging rights up for grabs. Fingers crossed we can get the result again."
Crossing for six tries at last year's World Cup – including a double in the 23-16 Grand Final win over the Kiwi Ferns – the always-humble Kelly remains selfless in her approach to the game.
Renowned for her work ethic and athletic ability, Kelly will be looking to maintain her phenomenal try-scoring strike rate in the clash with the Kiwi Ferns.
"[My success] comes from the girls around me, it's not just myself," Kelly says.
"The girls that work hard in the middle that set up tries for us on the outside... it's not just my work, but the girls' work in the team.
"I've trained really hard to get to where I am... in the back of my mind I've got a lot of goals that I want to reach, that's always motivating me to do better."