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Great mates are now Sky Blues co-captains

The two most-capped players in the Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues team are also the co-captains, which further strengthens the bond between good friends Kezie Apps and Isabelle Kelly.

Apps is about to play her 10th match for NSW and Kelly her ninth as they prepare for Game One of the 2023 Ampol Women’s State of Origin at Parramatta’s CommBank Stadium next Thursday (1 June).

“It’s really special. It’s a great way for me to start my captaincy journey with a mate of mine who I’ve played with for so long now,” Kelly told

“Kezie has been a pioneer within this squad and within our game for a long time.

“It’s a massive honour to be doing this with her.”

The previous NSW-QLD games were known as the Women’s Interstate Challenge before the State of Origin rebranding happened in 2018. Apps and Kelly are the only survivors from that 16-10 win over Queensland at North Sydney Oval.

For Apps and Kelly they are eagerly awaiting their sixth straight Origin battle. The ledger stands 3-2 in NSW’s favour after the 20-14 win in Canberra last year.

“I feel like Izzy and a lot of the other girls are already leaders in this team. It makes my job really easy,” Apps said.

“It means everything to me. Being a part of this squad is very special.

Co-captains Isabelle Kelly (centre) and Kezie Apps (baseball cap) at Sky Blues training
Co-captains Isabelle Kelly (centre) and Kezie Apps (baseball cap) at Sky Blues training

“Izzy and I will try to get the best out of the girls – make them feel comfortable, get them to use their strengths on the field, especially with the new girls coming through.

“We all have that drive and that hatred for Queensland. We’re all on the same page with that and loving NSW so much,” Apps said.

“We come into camp, we click, we bond, and we know it’s one of the highest honours to have in Rugby League – playing for NSW.

Kelly added: “For me I love to lead and be out on that field and do those hard runs that I thrive off as a player.

“This actually feels a very close camp already,” she said after the Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues assembled at NSWRL’s Centre of Excellence today to being their eight-day camp.

“Yes there are some new faces but at the same time we’ve got a core group that’s been together for a while. That closeness makes me excited because I think we can really put on a show next week.”

Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder had six debutants in her initial squad and this week named four debutants in her 17: winger Jaime Chapman, five-eighth Jesse Southwell, utility Taliah Fuimaono, and back rower Brooke Anderson.

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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