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How Southwell pushed through pain barrier for Sky Blues

Harvey Norman Sky Blues enforcer Hannah Southwell has revealed how she played on in the Ampol Women’s State of Origin match after rupturing two ligaments and suffering bone bruising in her right ankle during the first half.

The Sky Blues lost a hard-fought contest 8-6 at Sunshine Coast Stadium on the back of a penalty in the final minutes but had to overcome several obstacles along the way with Southwell (ankle), Sarah Togatuki (HIA) and Tiana Penitani (knee) leaving the field.

Southwell was in obvious pain after rolling her ankle while moving back into the defensive line and was assisted from the field before returning to finish off the match.

“I was going backwards and there must have been a hole in the ground because it was like a sniper hit me – I just rolled my ankle and heard ‘crack, crack’ and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness what have I done?’” she told

Medical staff strapped the ankle and Southwell insisted she could play on in the second half.

“I had some pain relief and anti-inflammatories, but I tell you what, it was painful. I was in a lot of pain on the field.

“But it’s Origin so you’ve just got to suck it up.”

Southwell’s head gear and textbook driving-tackle technique led Nine commentator, and former NSW Origin coach, Phil Gould to reminisce that she reminded him of “a female version of Nigel Plum”.

Plum, who played more than 150 NRL games for the Sydney Roosters, Canberra Raiders and the Penrith Panthers, were earmarked by his tough-as-teak defence. Some players tried to avoid being hit by him and Southwell has the same effect on opposition teams.

“I have watched Nigel play – he was a legend,” Southwell said. “I have been told that before, that I defend like him, which obviously is a huge compliment.”

Southwell, who this joined the RLPA board as the first-ever female player director, was scheduled to play in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership Grand Final for the Central Coast Roosters against Mounties tomorrow before the competition was suspended over the COVID-19 outbreak.

The current NSW Public Health Order will expire on Friday 30 July and the NSW Government will update the lockdown restrictions next week.

“It’s obviously not ideal but we can’t do too much about it since it’s out of everyone’s hands,” Southwell said.

“It was a State Government decision and left the NSW Rugby League with a tough situation.”