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Four years in making: Tillett's resilience pays off

When Tahlulah Tillett sat in the stands of Queensland Country Bank Stadium watching the women's All Stars game last year, she was getting asked questions.

'Hey miss, when are you going to play in this game?' was most common with the academy coach hosting a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Djarragun College.

What they didn't know was Tillett had asked herself the same thing in previous years.

The All Stars debut for Tillett is a long time coming after she first came onto the radar in 2018.

The 23-year-oldĀ has overcome a horrible run of injuries in recent years with back-to-back knee reconstructions threatening her career before it ever really began.

On Saturday night, with the No.7 jersey on her back, it will cap years of resilience.

"Last year was my first full footy again in 4-5 years," Tillett told NRL.com.

Tahlulah Tillett poses with the Torres Strait flag ahead of the game.
Tahlulah Tillett poses with the Torres Strait flag ahead of the game. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

"The past few years have been up and down but I'm really excited to be here and make my debut on Saturday night.

"Watching it over the last couple of years you get goosebumps so to be a part of it this year is going to be a whole other feeling.

"I've got my family coming down from Cairns so to have them here will make it a whole lot more special for me.

"I just want to make sure I go out there and soak it all up and remember the feeling."

Tillett is one of two players in the Indigenous All Stars team with Torres Strait heritage and she has been eager to bring an element of the culture to camp this week.

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Along with Jasmine Peters, she hopes to incorporate and add another layer to the side's cultural dance on Saturday.

"Being a Torres Strait Islander woman from up in North Queensland I'm obviously very proud to be able to represent my culture and family," Tillett said.

"I've been fortunate enough to grow up around my Torres Strait Islander culture, my dad's side of the family.

"When you get the opportunities to island dance and special cultural things it's a feeling you can't describe.

"The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are different, a lot of people sometimes take them for the same but theĀ stories we dance and sing about are very different."

Tillett will partner Knights teammate Kirra Dibb in the halves on Saturday, a combination that could also flow in the NRLW starting on February 27.

"The Knights have been awesome so far and it's a great group of girls," Tillett said.

"We are building really nicely. It's great to see so many players from the club representing their culture in this game."

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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