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Had Emma Manzelmann’s sporting focus taken a different path, she could have spent the past month facing off against rivals in the pool – preparing for Paris rather than Townsville.

A competitive swimmer as a youngster, Manzelmann competed against the likes of Ariarne Titmus, Kaylee McKeown and Meg Harris as she juggled both swimming and rugby league before opting to focus on football after finishing high school.

There's no regrets from the 22-year-old, who instead of looking to qualify for the Olympics will now look to help the Maroons clinch the first ever women's three-game Origin series.

“I see all the swimmers that I used to verse and they're all in the Olympics now and part of me thinks, 'Oh, I wish that could have been me,'" Manzelmann reflects.

"But I'm here now and grateful to be here. I say that and everyone's telling me to look where I am now – it's the same thing; they are thinking if they could be doing this.

"I really would have liked to see myself make it in swimming, but it's a sport you have to be very committed to.

"It's an individual thing that you could only probably do swimming and nothing else because it takes a lot of time and dedication.

Inside Camp: Tahnee Norris

"As I came out of school and had work commitments it was harder to get into the pool and train and be less fatigued. I was doing both and dropping swimming more and more before I just finally gave up swimming competitively and chose the football path to try and make it professionally."

Manzelmann's role in Game Three could take on a greater impact for the Maroons, with coach Tahnee Norris saying the versatile hooker who adds "a lot of spark" could take on a bigger responsibility in the decider with Destiny Brill sidelined.

“She played more minutes in the last game as well, it's just the timing of the run for Emma to make sure that we can get the most out of her,” Norris said.

“We know how quick she is, we just want to make sure that she has full impact when she comes off the bench. We'll have a look at it and whether she does play more minutes, she's up for it anyway.

“She's sitting in the Cowboys pre-season at the moment so she's fighting fit, she'll be ready for the minutes that we give her.”

The first signing secured for North Queensland in their inaugural season last year, Manzelmann was looking forward to the opportunity playing Origin again at her home base as one of three Cowboys selected in the squad for the series decider.

“I think it just keeps you more calm being at home," Manzelmann said.

"It's somewhere that you've played a lot in and you have yourself familiarised with the space – which way the wind blows or where the crowds the loudest. It just feels more comfortable playing in those venues when you've been there a lot.”

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour 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.