Olympic gold medallist Evania Pelite has been named in a 32-strong Queensland squad for the upcoming State of Origin at Canberra's GIO Stadium.
With no Queensland-based teams in Sunday's NRLW grand final after the Roosters shocked the Broncos and the Dragons eliminated the Titans, Maroons coach Tahnee Norris has announced an extended squad to begin preparing for Origin.
The squad includes a number of new faces, including Pelite, who returned to the NRLW this season with the Titans and was among the leading players in the competition.
The 26-year-old was in the Australian rugby sevens team which won gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and she was also a member of the squad that competed at last year's Tokyo Games.
After starting the season at fullback, Pelite moved to the centres and along with fellow rugby sevens convert Emma Tonegato, she gave an insight into the benefits of full time training for female athletes.
Tonegato and Pelite have been clinical in NRLW 2021
Jillaroos coach Brad Donald told NRL.com that both Pelite and Tonegato, who will play fullback for the Dragons in the grand final at Moreton Daily Stadium, could expect phone calls from Norris or NSW coach Kylie Hilder once their NRLW commitments were finished.
He said they were then likely to come into contention for Jillaroos selection at the end-of-season World Cup in England.
"It is not our place to reach out as Jillaroos, NSW and Queensland staff while these girls are still playing because they have a job to do for their teams,” Donald said.
“I think once the NRLW finishes on Sunday there will be some frantic calls from both NSW and Queensland around players like Evania and Emma to see their desire to play State of Origin.
“Once that is completed they are probably going to be hearing from someone like me, if they do play State of Origin."
The Maroons squad also includes Broncos winger Emily Bass, who switched from rugby union with the Queensland Reds, team-mate and former Australian rugby sevens representative Hagiga Mosby, Knights captain Romy Teitzel, Roosters forward Keilee Joseph and a host of familiar faces.
The Broncos have 13 players in the squad, headed by Ali Brigginshaw, Tamika Upton and Tarryn Aiken, while Titans captain Brittany Breayley-Nati is one of 12 Gold Coast representatives after making a successful return to the NRLW this season.
The Maroons squad will come together for four training days in May, as well as a specialist skills session.
The sessions will form an important part of the Maroons’ preparations ahead of the June 24 Ampol State of Origin match against NSW in Canberra.
The squad will be trimmed to 19 players who will take part in the final camp leading into the Origin match, with all players to be compensated throughout each training phase for the time they may need to take off work to train, travel and undertake their recovery requirements.
All selected NRLW players will have a medical review with Maroons team staff over the next two weeks, before they start to filter back into the QRL’s BMD Premiership after the Easter break.
The Maroons squad is:
Tarryn Aiken (Brisbane Broncos)
Emily Bass (Brisbane Broncos)
Ali Brigginshaw (Brisbane Broncos)
Brittany Breayley-Nati (Gold Coast Titans)
Destiny Brill (Gold Coast Titans)
Karina Brown (Gold Coast Titans)
Lauren Brown (Brisbane Broncos)
Shenae Ciesiolka (Brisbane Broncos)
Brianna Clark (Gold Coast Titans)
Jessika Elliston (Gold Coast Titans)
Jada Ferguson (Brisbane Broncos)
Tazmin Gray (Gold Coast Titans)
Steph Hancock (Gold Coast Titans)
Tallisha Harden (Brisbane Broncos)
Keilee Joseph (Sydney Roosters)
Chelsea Lenarduzzi (Brisbane Broncos)
Emma Manzelmann (Newcastle Knights)
Shannon Mato (Gold Coast Titans)
Hagiga Mosby (Brisbane Broncos)
April Ngatupuna (Gold Coast Titans)
Evania Pelite (Gold Coast Titans)
Jasmine Peters (Gold Coast Titans)
Shaniah Power (Gold Coast Titans)
Natassja Purontakanen (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Tiana Raftstrand-Smith (Gold Coast Titans)
Julia Robinson (Brisbane Broncos)
Sara Sautia (Brisbane Broncos)
Romy Teitzel (Newcastle Knights)
Chante Temara (Sydney Roosters)
Zahara Temara (Sydney Roosters)
Amy Turner (Brisbane Broncos)
Tamika Upton (Brisbane Broncos)