Maddie Studdon has credited a midweek honesty session among NSW players and some blunt truths from her Cronulla coach Glenn Brailey for reviving the fortunes of the Blues and her own career.
Studdon produced an outstanding second-half performance to steer NSW to a 14-4 victory in Friday night’s Women’s State of Origin at North Sydney Oval and earn the Nellie Doherty Medal as player of the match before a crowd of 10,515 adoring fans.
It was a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the former NSW captain who had been banished from the Sydney Roosters team for last year’s NRLW grand final and lost her place in the Jillaroos squad.
With NSW fortunate to only be trailing 4-0 at halftime after Queensland dominated possession and field position, Studdon stepped up in the second term and directed the Blues around, while also scoring a try and setting up another for winger Shakiah Tungai.
“I think that just shows what kind of passion we have for NSW,” Studdon said. “We were very calm, we weren’t stressed at all. We had positive talk all around us and we just believed in the sisterhood that we have in our team.“
However, there had been concerns during the week with the way the NSW players were gelling after the selection of seven debutants in the team and Blues coach Andy Patmore got them together for a truth session.
“We all realised we had a bit of a clunkiness earlier in the week so we had a meeting, it was not a crisis meeting but a quick talk about it, and they owned it," Patmore said.
“I led the conversations but they owned the conversations and made sure we stuck together, we worked out our little differences and we worked out our timings and to their credit the end of the week was exceptional."
Studdon said the honesty session had been a significant factor in the win.
“If we didn’t have that meeting we probably would have had problems out on the field,” Studdon said.
“That was the good thing about Andy, he addressed us early in the week and we spoke honestly. We really built that on there and that is where it started from.
“The first couple of sessions we were not great but it was good that Andy pulled us all aside and we had that in-house talk and we just spoke as a team. We were just all honest and that really helped us through the whole week.”
She also praised Brailey, the father of Cronulla hookers Jayden and Blayke, for telling her some home truths that have helped improve her game after falling out of favour at the Roosters last season.
Studdon has since joined the Sharks in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership and will play for St George Illawarra in this season’s NRLW competition.
“There is a good culture at the Sharkies and we all get on like a house on fire. We have been working really hard, it was probably the hardest pre-season I have had and Glenn Brailey is a really good coach,” Studdon said.
“He gives constructive feedback to everyone and girls can take it on board and they are not offended.
"He has turned me into a good player that I am today by telling me to just play eyes-up footy, numbers, simple, not over-thinking things and just being patient.
“I knew I had to focus on my game, I knew that I went away from playing good football and there was too much outside noise and distractions.
"I had a good off-season and Glenn has been heaps of help for me this season and I have been going out and playing good footy and enjoying it.”