'If Queensland lose I'll give it away'
The very real possibility that New South Wales will bring to an end Queensland's 17-year dominance of the women's interstate clash has driven Queensland skipper Steph Hancock to declare that she will quit if she doesn't lead her team to victory.
The women's interstate clash will be a feature of a triple-header to be played on the Gold Coast on Saturday along with the under-20s Holden Cup clash and the headline NRL game between the Titans and the Eels.
While the Queensland men have dominated the State of Origin arena for the past 11 years the success of the women's team stretches back even further but almost came to an end in Townsville last June.
With a growing number of NSW representatives making their way into the Jillaroos the gap between the two teams has closed to the point where last year's game finished as a 4-all draw, Queensland retaining the shield as a result of their 16th straight win in 2014.
More than 12 months on from that game and six months after first expressing her intentions to NRL.com, Hancock repeated her threat if the worst was to happen on Saturday.
"If I have to feel that experience, what it's like to be beaten by New South Wales in my lifetime, I'll give it away. I won't be able to handle it," said Hancock, who captained Queensland for the first time last year.
"The draw didn't mean crap to us. Obviously we wanted to win properly, not just retain the cup because it was a draw.
"The gap has definitely closed and I think this year, if anything, their side has probably got the same amount of experience as what we do and they've probably got a few key players that we don't really have this year."
The Queensland team has been bolstered by the return of five-eighth Ali Brigginshaw who suffered a horrible leg injury while playing last year but they will be without reigning Dally M Female Player of the Year Jenni-Sue Hoepper who is expecting her first child.
Former Kiwi Ferns representative Rona Peters has been selected for Queensland for the first time along with experienced Jillaroos representatives such as Karina Brown, Annette Brander, Renae Kunst and Heather Ballinger.
The NSW team will contain plenty of Jillaroos stars of their own in Ruan Sims, Kezie Apps, Allana Ferguson, Maddie Studdon and Samantha Bremner and Hancock is wary of the confidence they will have taken from coming so close last year.
"They'll remember that for sure," said the Jillaroos skipper who has played precious little football this year due to a broken finger.
"They're all excited, they've been training for months and this will be the first time we've come together on Tuesday when we go into camp.
"But the Queensland spirit is very similar to the boys in defence. We always show up for one another. I don't know how it happens but it just does so hopefully that hasn't disappeared and will all be working next Saturday."
Fellow Jillaroo Kody House made her Queensland debut in last year's drawn game in Townsville and said the emotions of her first interstate appearance were far different to those of the senior girls who had been so used to winning.
"It was really exciting and I was really nervous to play, probably more nervous than when I debuted for Australia over at the Auckland Nines," House told NRL.com.
"I was really happy that we drew and we still won the trophy but at the same time we didn't really win.
"I was really happy and then a bit upset about it because I really wanted to win considering the background that we've had but you could definitely see that the older girls were very disappointed, girls like Steph and Renae.
"We have been so strong in the past and to come so close [to losing] I think was a bit of a wake-up call so this year Brad (Queensland coach Brad Donald) has told us that we really need to be on point fitness wise and that we really need to get the win considering NSW is coming on strong."
Queensland women's team: 1. Karina Brown (Burleigh), 2. Chelsea Baker (Gladstone), 3. Amelia Kuk (Souths), 4. Annette Brander (Beerwah), 5. Casey Karklis (Souths), 6. Ali Brigginshaw (Souths), 7. Courtney Lockwood (Beerwah), 8. Steph Hancock (Souths), 9. Brittany Breayley (Souths Sunnybank), 10. Heather Ballinger (Souths), 11. Renae Kunst (Souths), 12. Tazmin Gray (Burleigh), 13. Rona Peters (Burleigh). Interchange: 14. Libby Cook-Black (Souths), 15. Steph Gallagher (Beerwah), 16. Selena Tranter (Burleigh), 17. Kody House (Calliope), 18. Tegan Rolfe (Clermont). Coach Brad Donald. Assistant coach: Karyn Murphy.