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The banter on the Bass-Pearson family group chat has been quieter than usual ahead of Sunday’s NRLW top of the table clash between the Broncos and Dragons at CommBank Stadium.

Brisbane winger Emily Bass and St George Illawarra halfback Rachael Pearson are cousins, and their families are so close that they regularly holiday together.

Needless to so they have supported both Emily’s and Rachael’s sporting endeavours, with members of Pearson’s family cheering the Broncos to a 28-10 defeat of Newcastle at WIN Stadium last Sunday before celebrating the Dragons’ 10-0 shut-out of Parramatta.

Pearson's family supported Bass when the Broncos played at WIN Stadium
Pearson's family supported Bass when the Broncos played at WIN Stadium ©Supplied

However, Bass and Pearson have never been in rival teams before.

“We have a family Facebook group chat, and it gets pretty quiet when people say ‘who are you going to go for. The Broncos or the Dragons?’. I think when it comes to the game, the family group chat will be very quiet.

“Obviously, I really don’t want to play against her, but it is what it is. On the field she is just another opposition player but off the field, I love her to bits.

“Rachael is a great player, but she is a really good human too. I’m not just saying that because she is my cousin. We normally go on trips to Bali together and do stuff like that, so it is going to be a bit different playing against her.”

Bass, who grew up in the small Queensland town of Dirranbandi, was a state champion hurdler and touch player before being scouted to play rugby sevens and Super W for the Reds.

Bass scores for the Broncos
Bass scores for the Broncos ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Pearson’s background is in soccer, Australian rules and league tag but their sporting paths eventually crossed after she moved from Hay to play alongside Dragons captain Kezie Apps at Helensburgh last year and Broncos coach Kelvin Wright convinced Bass to switch codes this season.

“I think she got announced with the Broncos and I got announced with the Dragons at about the same time and we were both just really excited for each other,” said Pearson, who is cousins with Bass's mother but just five years older than the dual code star.

“We used to catch up on family holidays in Bali so to see her around each weekend is great. It is surreal.

“She is young, but she has always been athletic, strong, fast and I thought rugby league would suit her perfectly.”

Pearson is one of the leading playmakers in the 2021 NRLW
Pearson is one of the leading playmakers in the 2021 NRLW ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

The 23-year-old winger had played touch in the Darling Downs with Broncos team-mate Shenae Ciesiolka and the pair took up rugby sevens together.

Ciesiolka joined the Broncos in 2020 and Bass followed this year.

“I had never played league before I have always followed the NRLW ever since it started [in 2018],” Bass said. “I love supporting women’s sport in general but I never thought I would play in the NRLW.

“I had a conversation with Kelvin and when the opportunity to follow the likes of Shenae came up I took it. I love union and I love sevens, but I am really, really loving the NRLW.

Bass joined the Broncos from the Reds Super W team
Bass joined the Broncos from the Reds Super W team ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

“With the Broncos having so many great players I never really thought I would get the opportunity to play, so I had never expected to play against Rachael.

“Watching her play for the Dragons has been amazing, just to see the sportsperson that she is. She is doing really, really well and the kicking factor is a big part of her game, so we have got to be aware of that on Sunday.”

After winning their opening two matches against the Titans and Eels, St George Illawarra are shaping as the main obstacle to Brisbane winning a fourth successive Telstra NRL Women’s premiership and Pearson is a key player for the Dragons.

Pearson scored all of the Dragons' points in their 10-0 defeat of the Eels
Pearson scored all of the Dragons' points in their 10-0 defeat of the Eels ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

The winner of Sunday’s clash is all but guaranteed a finals berth and will be well placed to claim the minor premiership, so Bass and Pearson accept there is more than family bragging rights on the line at CommBank Stadium.

“You want to play the best and it is a short competition, so you have got to win your games,” Pearson said. “We have taken a lot of confidence out of the last two games, but they will be confident too so it’s going to be a good game.”

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