A quintet of North Queensland’s best women’s rugby league players will be aiming to help their team to a 17th straight victory over New South Wales in Saturday’s Interstate Challenge at 1300SMILES Stadium.
One of three curtain-raisers to the round 16 NRL clash between the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys and the Cronulla Sharks, the women's challenge sees the Australian Jillaroos team split down state lines for the match.
The Queensland side boasts NQ talent Latoya Billy (Torres Strait, centre/winger), Jenni-Sue Hoepper (Cairns, five-eighth), Brittany Breayley (Cairns, hooker), Heather Ballinger (Mackay, front row) and Renae Kunst (Mackay, second row).
The Queensland women’s team have never been defeated by New South Wales since the interstate concept began in 1999 and have held the Nellie Doherty Cup since it was established in 2004.
This year’s team was selected after the women’s state divisional carnival, held at Southport recently.
Now based in Townsville working for the NRL as a development officer, Hoepper, 21, played for Australia in the 2013 World Cup as a teenager, and will be among the attacking threats for Queensland in Saturday’s match.
Mackay product Kunst, 32, hopes fans will get to 1300SMILES Stadium early to watch a great sporting event.
“I think the reason we (Queensland) have been so successful in the interstate challenge is that we really do buy into that Queensland spirit,” she said from the team’s training camp at Palm Cove this week.
“The game at 1300SMILES Stadium is a wonderful opportunity for people to see a women’s game of rugby league and to see first-hand the kind of passion and commitment we play with.”
The Queensland women’s team arrive at Townsville Airport at 2.30pm on Friday 26 June with the public invited to greet the team on their arrival.
Queensland: 1. Karina Brown 2. Chelsea Baker 3. Tallisha Harden 4. Annette Brander 5. Latoya Billy 6. Jenni-Sue Hoepper 7. Courtney Lockwood 8. Step Hancock (c) 9. Brittany Breayley 10. Heather Ballinger 11. Renae Kunst 12. Carly Bell 13. Tarah Westera 14. Casey Karklis 15. Jazmyn Taumafai 16. Selena Tranter 17. Kody House 18. Sarah Walker.
New South Wales: 1. Sam Hammond 2.Shani Sleeman 3. Mahalia Murphy 4. Corban McGregor 6. Allana Ferguson 7. Chloe Leaupepe 8. Elianna Walton 9. Charmayne Nathan 10. Ruan Sims 11. Kezie Apps 12. Vanessa Foliaki 13. Simaima Taufa 14. Cobie-Jane Morgan 15. Alexandra Sulusi 16. Rebecca Young 17. Jen Latu 18. Jasmin Allende.
TIMES – Saturday 27 June, 1300SMILES Stadium:
12.45pm: Gates open
1pm: NYC Cowboys v Sharks
2.45pm: Qld v NSW Women’s Interstate Challenge
4.30pm: Laurie Spina Shield Final
5.30pm: Cowboys v Sharks