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Epic journey a breeze for Tagai girls

Considering the lengths the young women from Tagai State College are going to play in the Karyn Murphy Cup, their commitment to the sport cannot be questioned.

Tagai State College is situated on Thursday Island, beyond the tip of Cape York.

Their 2100km trip to Redcliffe for the finals of the competition began on Monday with a ferry trip from Thursday Island to Horn Island. Flights from Horn Island to Cairns and then Cairns to Brisbane followed.

While much is made of NRL teams when they have to travel for interstate matches, that is nothing compared to the travels of the Tagai girls.

Team manager Matt Arkell said the state-wide schoolgirls competition has given the girls with a great opportunity.

"With us deciding to participate in the Karyn Murphy Cup this year, it has really opened an avenue for our kids," Arkell said.

"It's been difficult for our girls in the area of rugby league for many years, so it's just great that the NRL is really getting behind girls rugby league because we have so much potential and talent here.

The Tagai State College team.
The Tagai State College team. ©Supplied

"The whole school pumped up the team before we headed to Redcliffe. It's just awesome when you walk around the high school at the moment - everyone is talking about rugby league and it is fantastic to see that we are not talking about boys rugby league, everyone is talking about the girls and how well they are going."

In 2016 the NRL partnered with the Queensland Secondary School Rugby League Committee to develop a strategy to increase opportunities for girls in the sport.

The Karyn Murphy Cup is a nine-a-side competition with 12-minute halves that encompasses four divisions, from years five to 12.

Without the support of the Torres Strait Sport and Recreation on Thursday Island, the school and the NRL, Arkell said it wouldn't be possible for their year 11 and 12 girls to attend the competition.

"We can't thank Torres Strait Sport and Recreation enough for their support, along with the school and the NRL," he said.

"All the girls are very excited and ready to go, they have even come together each lunchtime, having little meetings. It's fantastic to see just how passionate they are about it and how much it means to them."

The Karyn Murphy Cup started in 2017 in honour of the former Queensland and Australian great.

The secondary component of the competition is supported and endorsed by the NRL, Queensland Secondary Schools Rugby League Committee 13-18 years and Queensland School Sport.

Murphy herself will head to Redcliffe to see all the talent that will be showcased from Wednesday.

"It's a huge honour and something that I really appreciate – it's something I'm very passionate about the game of rugby league and women and girls playing the game," she said.

The St. Pat's team
The St. Pat's team

"This [the pathways] was something I could only dream about when I went through school.

"There was no pathway through to the senior competition, so for these girls to have that pathway and particularly in my home state of's something I'm very proud of."

A humble Murphy said she wishes every woman who paved the way could be named on the Cup.

"So many women sacrificed a lot to play and now they are watching the current competitions going on - we are all proud of how far the game has come," she said.

"I do feel a little bad that my name is on this Cup as there are so many women that deserve this honour but I have great pride in holding this cup on behalf of everyone that's played."

The Karyn Murphy Cup oversees all 12 school sporting regions in Queensland and has gone from 170 teams last to over 230 teams enter in 2018.

2018 Karyn Murphy Cup Finalists
Year 5/6
1. Frenchville SS - Capricornia
2. Our Lady of Lourdes - Darling Downs
3. Walkervale SS - Wide Bay

Year 7/8
1. Kirwan SHS - Northern
2. Beenleigh SHS - South Coast
3. Mabel Park SHS - Met East

Year 9/10
1. Kirwan SHS - Northern
2. Redbank Plains SHS - Met West
3. Mabel Park SHS - Met East

Year 11/12
1. Tagai College - Peninsula
2. Keebra Park SHS - South Coast
3. Mabel Park SHS - Met East

Acknowledgement of Country

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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