Sacrifices for a rugby league dream

Jazmyn Taumafai is juggling more than most typical 21-year-olds in pursuit of her rugby league dream. 

Taumafai has taken time off two jobs this week to take her place in a Queensland side looking to record an unprecedented 17 wins in a row against NSW. 

She is also spending the week away from her two-year-old daughter Akira. It's a massive sacrifice to be involved in the Maroons camp, but something she is very passionate about. 

Needless to say, Taumafai has a great network of support around her with her partner and family encouraging her to follow her dream.

"I'll probably live off bread and water next week" Taumafai told NRL.com.

"I want to go on with my career and become a Jillaroo. I am becoming more mature as a player and it is something I really want to do. 

"There are other mothers in the team, so it is possible to play and have a family, but I'm not sure when I'll have my next, because I really want to keep playing at the moment and try to get a green and gold jersey. It would mean the world to me.

"You sacrifice a lot because you love it. I just can't wait to get out there and play. It is going to be awesome."

Taumafai's dream started as a 15-year-old when she was at a rugby league development camp at Mudgee College.

During the three-day camp, a chat from then Jillaroos and Queensland captain Karyn Murphy inspired her to pursue rugby league and take it to the next level.

Five years later, the Beerwah Bulldogs forward made her Queensland debut alongside Murphy in the captain's last ever game in 2014. 

Coming off the bench, Taumafai helped Murphy go out a winner in a 26-10 victory, which extended the Maroons' unprecedented winning streak to 16.

 

"I was very privileged to play in her last game. It was really emotional for everyone involved," she said.

"It means so much to play for Queensland, we are raised to hate NSW. There is so much passion amongst the team to represent Queensland, to wear the jersey, just as much as the boys."

Despite Murphy hanging up the boots last season, she is still an inspirational leader for the side. It is clear she means as much to the team as former champions Darren Lockyer and Wally Lewis meant to the men's side.

"She came into camp on Wednesday night and I'm still pretty star struck by her," Taumafai said.

"She has a massive presence that only the legends can bring, she was talking about the history of the game, where we have come from and what is at stake. Just reinforcing what it means to play in this game, what it means to play for Queensland and all the girls who have done it before us.

"It is a massive part of the camp, making sure we all know how important this game is.

"We have everything to lose and NSW have nothing to lose."

Taumafai is blown away by how far the women's game has come and the groundswell of support, but is also conscious of how much potential it has moving into the future.

"The momentum of the women's game is crazy at the moment, it has come a long way," she said.

"I think we are making a lot of believers every time we play and every time people actually get to watch us. You can't deny the talent in the game, we have some incredibly skilful players. 

"It is different to the men's [game], but we absolutely bash each other and the way we play provides plenty of entertainment. 

"I think people love to see the girls going at it."

The Women's Interstate Challenge will be played as a curtain raiser to the Round 16 clash between the Cowboys and the Sharks at 1300SMILES Stadium and will be streamed live on NRL.com on Saturday afternoon from 2:45pm AEST, before being replayed on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday at 6pm AEST.

Find out more about the Women's Interstate Challenge including team lists here.