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Scary good: Hilder full of respect for Origin rival Norris

It's been 12 years since a hard-nosed Tahnee Norris glared at Kylie Hilder when the Australian Jillaroo refused to get into an ice bath after the first Test match of her rugby league career.

Norris, the most-capped player in Jillaroos history, wasn't having any of it as 32-year-old Hilder helped the side to a rare 18-16 victory over the Kiwi Ferns in New Zealand.

"It was my one and only Test match for Australia and Tahnee was the captain of the side, I was scared shitless of her," Hilder says.

"She was the scariest player to ever play against, Tahnee, and even to meet her in person, she was intimidating.

"She gave that 'I'm the captain of this team and you're going to play by my rules vibe' and that scared the shit out me as well.

"If she told me to pick up the rubbish I would do it. If she asked me to tie her shoelaces I would. But off the field, she is the complete opposite, even though she gives that persona."

And what about last week on Tuesday, when the pair reunited to launch the women's 2021 Ampol State of Origin clash on the Sunshine Coast, would she have tied those same shoelaces?

"Yeah, I probably would've," Hilder laughs.

"The question was asked to Ali Brigginshaw what sort of coach Tahnee was and her response was 'serious'. I was standing next to Tahnee and said 'oh that's surprising'.

"She still scares me, even talking to her these days."

Ali Brigginshaw and Kezie Apps with the new Origin shield up for grabs in 2021.
Ali Brigginshaw and Kezie Apps with the new Origin shield up for grabs in 2021. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Norris, true to the reputation she's built as a player and coach on her way to the Maroons coaching gig, welcomed the comments leading into the first-ever all-female Origin coaching battle on June 25.

"I think we should maintain that, if she's still shit scared then happy days," Norris laughs.

"I'm glad she still feels that way, that's fantastic. Kylie is one of the characters of the game.

"When we played against each other in the interstate challenge for NSW and Queensland we were always wary of the touch footballers playing and Kylie was a big target for us.

"Being in the middle of the field she was someone I went at.

"But coming into the Australian team and having more to do with her, she was good fun on tour, she was new to it but always good to have around the team.

"I remember she refused to go into the ice bath I gave her a really big glare because she said she wasn't going to hop in. Deep down, I didn't blame her. It was freezing."

All jokes aside, Hilder and Norris understand their fresh roles come with a level of commitment to help grow the women's game while encouraging more female coaches at the top level.

"We both want to make the most of the opportunity," Norris said.

"We're both wanting to learn and grow and try to get the best out of us as players.

"We understand the girls because we've been there and we've both played at a high level so it's a really good opportunity.

"If we are that example and people can see us in those spots hopefully others can aspire to be in an Origin or NRLW role one day."

As for the coaching styles of the pair, Hilder said there will be some likely differences in how they prepare their state sides.

"I get serious at a time when I need to but I know I'm not going be as intense as Tahnee will be," Hilder said.

"I'm the type of person that when it's time to knuckle down and do the work I get in and get it done.

"When the girls know that I'm not happy with something they'll know that, but I'm not going to be highly stressed or strung about it.

"Tahnee loves her footy, that's one thing I took away from her, she knows her stuff and has been around the game a long time. Even before we got this gig we used to catch up and have a chat.

"As soon as she got appointed I was straight onto the phone to congratulate her on being Queensland coach."


Women’s Origin tickets are on sale via NRL Tickets. Supporters can watch the historic match from just $5 for juniors, $15 for adults and $35 for families