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Zahara Temara in training for the women's All Stars game.

New Zealand Maori five-eighth Zahara Temara is looking forward to performing the haka after years of being on the opposite side of the paddock and expects her emotions to take over in the process.

The 21-year-old joins teammate Tazmin Gray in rare company as incumbent Jillaroos players who were eligible for the Maori switch ahead of the Harvey Norman All-Stars clash.

Temara moved from New Zealand to Queensland when she was 11 and has been part of the Australian pathway systems for the past decade, while Gray followed a similar path years earlier and made her Jillaroos debut last season.

Growing up in New Zealand, Temara's passion revolved around the All Blacks and playing for the women's national rugby union team, the Black Ferns, was all she wanted to do as a child.

"That's all I knew, the black jersey," Temara told

"It's grown so much in Australia but I had no idea about the Jillaroos or how long they'd had a team.

"I learnt how to play footy over here. I knew I couldn't play for the Kiwis so I was stoked to get a green and gold jersey."

Jillaroos playmaker Zahara Temara.
Jillaroos playmaker Zahara Temara. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Temara made her Jillaroos debut in 2017 but representing her Maori culture is set to bring another element of passion out in her.

She spoke of her need to "learn on the go" when it comes to representing Australian culture, as opposed to the feeling she expects while performing the Maori haka at AAMI Park on Friday.

"I'm actually looking forward to doing the haka this time and being a part of this Maori team, instead of watching the haka and being on the receiving end," Temara said.

"I'm really enjoying this camp because it makes me feel like I'm home around the girls with haka practice and singing songs.

"A lot of girls in the Jillaroos talk about how we're playing for our people and I call Australia home just as much as New Zealand now, but I can tell there is a feeling they get doing it and sometimes I feel I miss out on that feeling.

"Because they are actually from Australia and I'm basically an adopted kid even though I play for my people when I have a green and gold jersey on. I'm so fortunate to play for the Jillaroos but it's really nice to still be able to play for my culture and my people this time."

Temara finished the 2018 season as the Jillaroos No.7 alongside Ali Brigginshaw but is determined to improve after setting lofty ambitions.

She was also Brigginshaw's halves partner for Queensland and finished as the Sydney Roosters' NRLW player of the year.

"Draining is probably the word to describe last year," Temara said.

"It was a long season and I would do it all again but it was also a wake-up call. I wasn't happy with how I played last season.

"There were a couple of games… I wasn't happy with the grand final result so I hope I fix that this year."

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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