Halfback Maddie Studdon has recovered from a hip injury to take her place at halfback in the NSW City team to play their second match of the 2019 Harvey Norman Women's National Championships against South-East Queensland.
Both sides are coming off big wins in the opening two days of competition, and both have a generous smattering of State of Origin players in their line-ups.
That's why City coach Steve Kelly breathed a sigh of relief to see Studdon overcome a cork to the back of her hip to take on Jillaroos and Maroons half Ali Brigginshaw.
Studdon (Cronulla) did her own stretching and exercises on Friday under the watchful eyes of NSW City medical staff before joining her teammates for passing drills and rehearsing set plays.
“She's good to go,” Kelly told nswrl.com.au.
“Maddie is a tough kid so she'll be fine.”
After nine debutants against Combined Affiliated States (CAS), Kelly has only two for SEQ – Jess Sergis (Helensburg) and Shanice Parker (North Sydney)
Studdon has been partnered with rugby convert Parker at No.6 in her NSW City debut. The pair have not played together before.
“There's no concerns there,” Kelly said.
“Shanice has played a lot of football and just came off the back of a SuperW season for NSW (rugby union). So she comes in hard and ready to play footy.”
Helping team cohesion in facing a strong SEQ side is the fact NSW City's back five have a Cronulla connection underpinning communication.
“Pretty close to an all-Sharks back five,” Kelly said.
“Jess (Sergis) and Shontell (Stowers) play for other clubs now but they were in Cronulla's system in the past.
“They are all quality players with speed to burn.”
The SEQ team has four current Maroons in their starting 13.
"There's Maroons and Broncos grand final winners in there so they come fully stacked and ready to play,” Kelly said.
“They are a quality outfit, who are quality-coaches.
"It's going to be a great game of footy tomorrow."
"Ali Brigginshaw is definitely going to control things with her great kicking game, so we'll have eyes on her. But there's plenty of other threats across the park.
"Young Tarryn Aiken is quality player who doesn't let anyone down and then there's Origin players like Rona Peters and Tazmin Gray – the list goes on. They have plenty of threats."
Kelly wants to see commitment by his players for the full 60 minutes, after attitude dropped off a little in the 46-0 win over Combined Affiliated States (CAS) on Thursday. After scoring 36 points in the first half, City managed just 10 in the second.
“We just have to control things for the full hour, instead of playing half-an-hour of footy. We need to apply ourselves for the whole game of footy,” Kelly said.
“We have a few bumps but it's not excuse to drop off what we did the first day. I want to see control from the outset and keep it going the whole game.”
Those bumps include losing forward, and City debutant Aaliyah Faamausili (Wentworthville), with medial ligament damage in her right knee. She will be sidelined for between four to six weeks.
Unfortunately another non-starter due to a concussion a week ago is Roosters, NSW and Jillaroos middle forward Simaima Taufa. She is expected to play City's final match of the championships on Sunday.
The Harvey Norman National Championships are being played at Pizzey Park, Burleigh Heads.
NSW City Origin side: 1 Corban McGregor (Cronulla), 2 Kiana Takairangi (Cronulla), 3 Shontell Stowers (North Sydney), 4 Jess Sergis (Helensburg), 5 Tiana Penitani (Cronulla), 6 Shanice Parker (North Sydney), 7 Maddie Studdon (Cronulla), 8 Eli Walton (Canterbury), 9 Rebecca Riley (South Sydney), 10 Teina Clark (Wentworthville), 11 Montana Fonua (Wentworthville), 12 Shaylee Bent (Mounties), 13 Sarah Togatuki (Mounties). Interchange: 14 Botille Vette-Welsh (Wests Tigers), 15 Karla Cowan (Cronulla), 16 Alitia Namoce (North Sydney), 17 Najvada George (Wests Tigers).