Iron woman Origin effort nothing new for quiet achiever Taufa
22 runs, 182 metres, 29 tackles in 60 minutes.
Preparation? One week.
No it wasn't a weekly Jason Taumalolo performance for the Cowboys, or David Klemmer's consistent numbers at the Bulldogs.
It was front rower Simaima Taufa and she was in everything for NSW in the women's Holden State of Origin clash on Friday night. But if not for an intense month of rehabilitation, the 24-year-old would not have been on the field at all.
The newly-signed Roosters forward tore a muscle in her hip playing for local club side Mounties in May – sidelining her for the Harvey Norman National Championships – and threatening to derail her Origin dream.
"I got the diagnosis it was looking between three to six weeks," Taufa told NRL.com.
"It was touch and go, I was worried I would miss out. Crossy [NSW coach Ben Cross] said I'd be there if I could get myself right.
"I went through intense rehabilitation every day in between work, would have ice baths and hot showers at night, visit the physio regularly.
"I was hurting but I knew the pinnacle was to play State of Origin so it left me every motivation to make sure I was there."
Adding to an already tense return from injury, Taufa was named as Ruan Sims' replacement in the front row - a role she's played before but usually takes on an underdog tag due to her pocket-rocket size physique.
Making things worse the Blues lost lock Vanessa Foliaki and centre Corban McGregor to first half injuries, leaving Cross with a disorganised interchange system.
Taufa's iron woman effort in the middle did not go unnoticed during the clash with Penrith Panthers general manager Phil Gould in commentary for Channel Nine, amazed at Taufa's efforts.
She also took out Cross' coach's award following the clash.
But her numbers in Origin won't surprise some. The unheralded prop was one of the best on-field in the Jillaroos' win over the Kiwi Ferns in last year's World Cup final with a similar performance.
"I'm tapped out... spent," Taufa said after Friday night's heroics.
"Everyone says something comes out of you when you play Origin and when you pull on the Blues jersey.
"It's something as a playing group we had a culture that we've tried to build for so long coming through with the right staff and NSW backing us 100%. We just knew we could get the job done."
The satisfaction came at fulltime for the Blues in front of close to 7000 fans at North Sydney Oval.
"I'm still amazed, to have young girls running onto the field after the game asking for autographs and photos, saying you're their inspiration or role model – it put a smile on my face," Taufa said.
"That's what our players are about, trying to put footy out there so everyone buys into it and I'm confident that both sides did that."