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Queensland captain Steph Hancock and stalwart Tarah Westera love playing in the Maroons jersey.

She played only a minute in a Queensland Origin selection trial before her tooth went through her lip in the opening tackle of the match, but Tarah Westera will be ready to take on NSW in the Women's Interstate Challenge on Saturday at 1300SMILES Stadium. 

It was in those same trials that Jillaroos and Queensland halfback Ali Brigginshaw broke her leg in three places. 

There is no doubting the skill, toughness or physicality of the women's game. 

While sitting in the hospital waiting to have her lip fixed up, Westera's only concern was that she would miss the Interstate Challenge.

"I was waiting to see the doctor and wondering whether or not I'd get the chance to play," Westera told 

"It means everything to me to wear the maroon jersey and I was a bit worried the injury would rule me out of the game. It is still a bit sore, but it was good that [Queensland] coach Brad Donald showed loyalty there and picked me."

Westera, a World Cup-winning Jillaroo, has been a mainstay in the Queensland side since 2002 but was forced to play two seasons for NSW from 2012-13 due to the residency rule, something she "hated" doing.

The Queensland side has never been beaten by NSW and are looking to take their streak to an incredible 17 straight, something Westera has played a unique role in. 

"When I lived in Penrith I had to play for NSW. I hated it," she said.

"No disrespect to NSW, but I'm a Queenslander and it was really hard playing in the blue jersey and against the Maroons. 

"I tried my hardest for them, but it was a little awkward, it made me really appreciate being back in the Queensland team.

"Five years ago, 90 per cent of the Australian Jillaroos were Queenslanders. The infrastructure and organisation in Queensland is pretty impressive, they have been pretty dominant."

                The Queensland team came into camp at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday.

The self-described 'North Queensland girl' can't wait to pull on the Maroons jersey again and run out onto 1300SMILES Stadium. When she does, she'll have over 10 Jillaroos members alongside her in a team oozing class.

"I get goosebumps just thinking about it," she said. 

"To be able to pull on the Maroon jersey again with my name on the back, there is nothing better.

"It will be awesome to run out onto that ground and represent Queensland again."

Just like the men's Queensland Origin team, the women's team is steeped in history and tradition. It is drilled into the players and an important part of the weeklong camp.

"Our side is about history and it is quite an emotional week to be in the camp," Westera said.

"It is such an honour to wear the Maroons jersey and to represent Queensland, I never want it to end.  It is so special to have your name on the back of the jersey.

"The men's team has been really supportive which is great. We've had messages from [Johnathan] Thurston, [Greg] Inglis, Cooper [Cronk], they have been so good. They take the time to hang out with us when possible and chat to us about the game, they are genuinely supportive and it means the world to us."

Westera knows her time in rugby league is coming to an end, but still has some big games left in her after winning a World Cup with the Jillaroos in 2013. 

"The women's game has come such a long way, it is awesome where it is heading," she said.

"I probably don't have long left, but I'm not done yet. I think I'm fitter than I've ever been and I've been pretty lucky with injuries. I'd love to play another World Cup.

"I just want one more game, one more jersey."

The women's game will be played as a curtain raiser to the Round 16 clash between the Cowboys and the Sharks and will be streamed live on It will also be shown on delay on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, 6pm AEST, with Jo Barrett and Brent Tate set to commentate the clash.

Queensland squad: 

1. Karina Brown (South-East Queensland)
2. Chelsea Baker (Central Division)
3. Kody House (Central Division) 
4. Annette Brander (Central Division)
5. Latoya Billy (North Queensland)
6. Jenni-Sue Hoepper (North Queensland)
7.Courtney Lockwood (Central Division)
8. Steph Hancock – captain (South-East Queensland)
9. Brittany Breayley (South-East Queensland)
10. Heather Ballinger (South-East Queensland)
11. Renae Kunst (North Queensland)
12. Carly Bell  (Central Division)
13. Tarah Westera (South-East Queensland)
14. Casey Karklis (South-East Queensland)
15. Jazmyn Taumafai (Central Queensland)
16. Florence Faamita (South-East Queensland)
17. Sarah Walker (Central Division)
18. Jessica Gracie (South-East Queensland)

NSW squad:

1. Sam Hammond (Helensburgh)
2. Shani Sleeman (Helensburgh)
3. Mahalia Murphy (Redfern)
4. Corban McGregor (Helensburgh)
5. Isabelle Kelly (Berkeley Vale)
6. Allana Ferguson (Helensburgh)
7. Chloe Leaupepe (Greenacre)
8. Elianna Walton (Greenacre)
9. Charmayne Nathan (Berkeley Vale)
10. Ruan Sims (Helensburgh)
11. Kezie Apps (Helensburgh)
12. Vanessa Foliaki (Mt Druitt PCYC)
13. Simaima Taufa (Mt Druitt PCYC)
14. Cobie-Jane Morgan (Greenacre)
15. Alexandra Sulusi (Forestville)
16. Rebecca Young (Maitland)
17. Jen Latu (Corrimal)
18. Jasmin Allende (Redfern)


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National 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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