Rookie NSW halfback Rachael Pearson will be in familiar territory on Friday night, with a State of Origin side that bleeds blood and bandages.
Eight St George Illawarra players have been selected in Kylie Hilder’s NSW extended squad for Game One, with Pearson, Emma Tonegato, Keely Davis and Quincy Dodd set to headline the key positions in the Origin fixture.
Hailing from Hay, three hours west of Wagga Wagga, debutant Pearson will be feeling far from home under the city lights at GIO stadium but the star No. 7 said some familiar faces lining up alongside her in the backline “is a blessing".
“I believe you play your best footy when you’re comfortable, and already knowing some of these girls through playing for the Dragons is really exciting,” Pearson told NRL.com.
“Obviously, with myself being a half, having Keely Davis and Quincy Dodd at dummy half, I know their game and how they pass.
“And then with Emma Tonegato at fullback, I know where she is or likes to be on the field so I suppose that will be an upper hand.
“It’s just nice to have familiar faces and know each other’s game a little bit but at the same time everyone has to adapt quickly in a weeklong camp.”
Pearson, 28, is set to feature in an exciting halfback battle after being handed the tough task of shutting down Maroons star skipper Ali Brigginshaw.
Match: NSW Women v QLD Maroons
Round 1 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
“Ali’s pretty much done everything when it comes to a half in rugby league,” Pearson said.
“I think I’ll just try and play my game but at the same time do what I can to shut her down.
“She’s a quality player and I’m sure she’ll lead them around the park well but at the end of the day it’s 13 on 13, so we’ve got to worry about everyone out there.”
The Sky Blues had a light training session on Tuesday in the lead-up to the match while Queensland will travel to Canberra on Wednesday.