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Kelly being given time to heal

Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues centre Isabelle Kelly has been cleared by medical specialists to play Game Two in Townsville next week, but she still has one more hurdle to overcome.

“She’s got quite a mental battle to get through, it was a traumatic experience for her, but we’ll work with her to make sure she’s mentally ready to go, but physically she’s great,” Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder said.

“It’s going to be just making sure she’s comfortable with everything going on, and she’s done some contact so that’s a bonus and a plus.

“She’s an athlete and pretty experienced now at this level so she knows how to look after herself.”

Kelly suffered a serious throat injury in a tackle by Queensland winger Julia Robinson the 31st minute of the Game One loss (18-10) to the Maroons at CommBank Stadium on 1 June.

The Sky Blues co-captain had to be assisted from the field and received treatment in the ICU unit of Westmead Hospital for two days.

She has resumed light training, contact work and completed some ball skills-set plays at Sky Blues first training run yesterday (Thursday) at NSWRL’s Centre of Excellence.

Kelly travelled with the team to Townsville last night and will be monitored ahead of Game Two at Queensland Country Bank Stadium next Thursday.

Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder
Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder

“It’s totally up to Issy - there’s no pressure from me at all, so those conversations are ongoing,” Hilder said.

“I have a really good relationship with all my players and their health is my priority.”

In further good news on the injury front, Simaima Taufa (shoulder) and Tiana Penitani (hamstring) both completed the session, after missing Game One.

“It’s awesome to have Simaima back. What she brings in being around this team again is awesome,” Hilder said.

“Tiana is also all good and ready to go.”

Hilder said she had full confidence in her new halves combination of halfback Jesse Southwell and five-eighth Taliah Fuimaono, who both play in those positions for their respective Harvey Norman NSW Premiership teams – the Newcastle Knights and Illawarra Steelers.

“Absolutely, otherwise I wouldn’t have put her in there,” Hilder said, when asked if Southwell could handle the pressure of a must-win Game Two in just her second Origin appearance.

“She’s a very mature 18-year-old. After the game the conversations I had with the players just reinforced more the direction I wanted to go.

“She wants to be that leader and I’m really, really confident in her.”

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