Ali Brigginshaw used to run around in the backyard of her Ipswich home as a youth pretending to be Allan Langer and now she is set to wear the Brisbane Broncos jersey that years ago seemed like just a pipe dream.
The 28-year-old Jillaroos star is one of five marquee players snapped up by the Broncos women’s team which launched their inaugural season in the NRL Women’s premiership on Friday in Brisbane.
The Jillaroos five-eighth has done everything in the game. She has been a member of the Queensland women’s team that dominated State of Origin for so many years, she has won two World Cup titles and was named player of the match in the 2017 World Cup final at Suncorp Stadium.
To wear the Broncos jersey in an NRL competition will fulfil her long-held dreams.
"This is something I never thought would happen," Brigginshaw told NRL.com.
"Yes, I’ve ticked off two World Cups and been player of the match in a final but to play for the Broncos is something I didn’t think I would get to achieve.
"As a little kid I’d pretend to run around in the yard as Allan Langer.
"I just liked the way he could step and play with the ball. That was the exciting thing for me when I came from touch football. I thought 'I don't just want to pass the ball. I want to step and weave and run around the big girls'. That is one thing he did so well."
Another player Ali would pretend to be in the backyard was her father Larry Brigginshaw, an outstanding halfback himself for Brisbane Easts who toured England with the 1983 Queensland side that included the likes of Wally Lewis, Gene Mile and Mal Meninga.
Brigginshaw has the ball skills and running game of a champion half but her defensive clout is something she credits her father for inculcating in her from an early age.
"Dad played in the halves for Queensland as well and has been a huge influence, and he was a really harsh critic as well,” she said.
"If I would play a game, even at the age of 10, and missed a few tackles he would make sure I knew about it and how to fix it.
"That has helped me right up until now. Yes, I like to have the ball skills but my defence was something I really worked hard on as a little girl."
The new NRL women's competition has given Brigginshaw a new lease on life as she targets playing until at least the next World Cup in 2021.
"It has excited me to play longer but I have always had in my head that I wanted to do three World Cups," she said.
"The next World Cup is one I really want to strive for. A lot of girls do retire around the age of 32 or 33 and my goal is to make it through until then and to continue coaching.
"I am really passionate about coaching and even as a player I think I play a bit like a coach because I try and tell everyone what their job is."
Brigginshaw, who coaches girls teams, is highly regarded in Ipswich for her work at local clubs in assisting young girls with their skills and realising their own dreams.
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The new NRL Women's competition, which kicks off in September, has given her an extra spring in her step as she does the rounds.
"It has brought a new excitement to my career, knowing that when I go to visit clubs these young girls can dream to be a Bronco and actually be a Bronco now," she said.
"That is surreal, that we could see little girls with our jerseys on and with our name on the back. That is just something I never thought would happen.
"This competition is going to be huge and at the top level we are going to have to pick up our game because I see so many talented girls who are 16 and 17 that are a year or two away from playing for Australia."
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