International selection for Saturday's Test against Tonga was so far from Roxy Murdoch’s mind a few months ago that she booked a holiday to coincide with the Representative Round, not thinking twice about a potential schedule clash.
Those plans to head back to New Zealand – which included attending the Test at Mount Smart Stadium as a fan – are now out the window, with the Broncos' NRLW forward instead enjoying her first ever camp with the Kiwi Ferns.
“I booked my flights to come back from Australia three months ago because I never thought that I would be playing,” Murdoch told NRL.com.
“So last week I had to call the airline up quickly and change my flights so I could get here earlier, and then call my mum and let her know I’d made the team and that she’d have to take two weeks off work to look after my daughter.
“I really didn’t believe that I would make this team.”
Selection in coach Ricky Henry’s new-look group comes after Murdoch enjoyed a strong NRLW campaign with Brisbane, while she has represented the Maori Women in the Harvey Norman All Stars in each of the past two seasons.
Prior to returning to Australia from England in 2021, when husband Ben Murdoch-Masila signed with the Warriors after a stint in the Super League, Murdoch had been set to go down a different path in international rugby league, having made herself eligible for England after earning a place in their wider training squad.
Had it not been for the postponement of the Rugby League World Cup last year it’s likely she would have played for them, something she is now thankful didn’t happen.
“I was a bit gutted (when we first left England) because I had worked so hard to get into the England squad and never in my wildest dreams did I think I could make the Kiwi Ferns,” Murdoch said.
“In the end I am grateful I didn’t play (for England), don’t get me wrong I’m grateful they picked me, but I am more grateful to be a Kiwi Fern.
“I am just happy to be here. I am not expecting anything other than the chance to show what I have got.”
Murdoch is one of five newcomers named by Henry, joining teenage Titans back Hailee-Jay Maunsell, Dragons centre Page McGregor, Olympic gold medalist Amy Turner and Auckland’s reigning player of the year Laishon Albert-Jones in the squad.
Murdoch extends the Broncos lead
That injection of youth, alongside experienced players like Krystal Rota, Annetta-Claudia Nu'uausala and Nita Maynard has another of the team’s veterans, Georgia Hale, excited about what they can build ahead of the Rugby League World Cup at the end of the year.
“It’s a powerful mix we have here and it’s promising for our World Cup campaign,” Hale said.
“There have been some girls we have been watching and admiring from afar who get the chance now.
“We have got girls who are coming in hot off the NRLW Grand Final, players coming from different environments and those who are playing club footy in Auckland, it’s an exciting time.”