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Maroons prop Shannon Mato.

Maroons prop Shannon Mato says the presence of retired stalwart Steph Hancock still lingers in camp as the impact forward prepares for a starting role against the Sky Blues on Friday night.

Mato ran for 131 metres on Origin debut last year in a performance that was overshadowed by the heroics of her former Queensland teammate Hancock, who finished her career with a match-winning try.

While the Maroons could spring a late change with experienced forwards Tallisha Harden and Rona Peters pushing to be inclusions, Mato is in line to overcome a knee injury and play her second game for the Maroons.

"Steph gave it 100 per cent every time, she never gave up and that's what I've taken from her," Mato told

"Being able to get a bit of guidance from her, it's the Queensland way. She left her legacy with us and left a mark on the forward pack."

Battle for Origin supremacy: Women's Origin rivalry heats up

The 22-year-old's promotion to the starting side will be met with the challenge of containing NSW forwards Millie Boyle and Simaima Taufa in the middle of the ruck.

Mato, who returned to the field last week after a nasty knee dislocation in April, said her combination with front-row teammate Chelsea Lenarduzzi was key to limiting the visitors' go-forward.

"My brother always says to me everyone has two arms and two legs so they can be taken down," Mato said.  

This is a Rivalry that knows no boundaries

"Chels and I will be there to shut down Millie. She won't hold back and neither will we.

"Competitiveness runs through a lot of women naturally and I don't want to leave the field not giving it my all."

A disability support worker, New Zealand-born Mato moved to Australia with her family in 2011 before returning to rugby league after a stint in rugby union.

She moved from Brisbane to Sydney at the start of the season to "start fresh" and step outside her comfort zone.

It was from there she dislocated her knee cap while playing for the North Sydney Bears in the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership.

"It wasn't through contact, it was getting up from marker and my foot was off balance. The player got up and pushed me before she played the ball and it forced my knee to pop out," she said.

"I had my first game back last Monday. I held out my rehab longer than I should've because I wanted to be ready for this game.

"I was very lucky, I got the best outcome. I could've got cleared earlier but it was more of a mental thing. I've done a lot of contact, running and agility, I'm 100 per cent in all that physical stuff.

"I don't think I'd put myself in the situation and let the team down if I wasn't ready."


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

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