When you meet Tahlulah Tillett, she has a relaxed and laidback air about her; some may call it a typical North Queensland vibe.
However, this hides the fierce determination within her that has seen her stare down disappointment to return not once, not twice, but three times from major injuries, two of them being season ending.
However, the Cairns product worked hard each time to get back into action and has impressed many on her way back into the field.
The talented half, who achieved state and national honours in touch football, was selected in the Queensland Female Performance Program squad named last December and has attended both camps that have been held so far and is putting in the work to be considered for the upcoming State of Origin match in June.
“I’ve had a tough run with some injuries, so I haven’t been able to play (the past two seasons),” Tillett said.
“In the past two years, I have had different knee injuries that have all required surgery (an ACL and MCL), but prior to that, I was in Cairns and there was not much of a comp up there, so I was just playing representative stuff back in 2017 for the Marlins and I made the Emerging squad back then.
“But now, this year, I will hopefully be back playing for the North Queensland Gold Stars and with the Cowboys Women’s Academy and, they are now starting a local comp up in Cairns this year.
“I have also got the opportunity to train with the Northern Pride Intrust Super Cup side as well. I’ve been them since January, 2019 – they helped me come back from my ACL and once I did my MCL, they fully rehabbed me and I have been training with them since the first of November, we started the pre-season, so they have been really awesome as a club.”
The daughter of former Cowboys NRL player Stephen Tillett and the grand-daughter of well-known North Queensland rugby league administrator Nigel Tillett, the game has always been in her blood.
“I started playing rugby league when I was 10 years old for the Cairns Kangaroos,” Tillett said.
“I grew up in a pretty big rugby league family, my dad played with the Cowboys and my grandfather Nigel Tillett has been very heavily involved in the North Queensland and QRL boards, so I grew up in a massive rugby league family and always loved it.
“It was always going to happen, I don’t know anything different.”
This season, Tillett’s main goal is to stay injury free in order to “play consistent football”, which includes earning a place in the Gold Stars squad in the QRL Women’s Premiership.
“QRLW is going to be awesome; it’s really good, it gives a lot of opportunities up in North Queensland for the girls up there too,” Tillett said.
“We are pretty lucky now that we don’t have to come down south anymore to get these opportunities, so that’s a major opportunity so I am really looking forward to it.
“There’s a couple games in Cairns and Townsville, so it’s going to be really good to play in front of your home crowd.”
Having overcome a number of obstacles to keep her love of the game alive, Tillett was also enjoying the opportunity to be part of the Queensland senior women’s squad.
“It was really good, it was good to be back around this level and with the likes of Ali Brigginshaw, Steph Hancock, those big-name players, legends of the game,” the proud Torres Strait Islander woman said.
“It was a really good feeling and it also just adds fuel to the fire of wanting to make the final team and debut for Queensland later this year.”