Queensland women score a win in Origin arena
WHEN it comes to memorable moments in sports, few can surpass the passion and excitement of State of Origin.
The last-minute wins, bone-crunching tackles, spectacular tries and those moments that simply take your breath away.
2018 was a watershed moment for rugby league with the Women's Interstate Challenge replaced by the Women's State of Origin.
A name change may not seem like a big thing to some, but for women's rugby league it was recognition that our female players now stand shoulder to shoulder as equals with our male players.
This year the Queensland Rugby League has gone one step further and for the first time the women's and men's teams are both known as the Queensland Maroons.
The 34 women who took to North Sydney Oval last year not only did justice to the State of Origin brand, they created a buzz and excitement that ensured the inaugural NRLW season was the success that it was.
Thanks to the success of the Women's State of Origin game and the NRLW season, players such as Ali Brigginshaw, Isabelle Kelly, Kezie Apps and Steph Hancock are now household names like Kalyn Ponga, Cameron Munster, Damien Cook and James Tedesco.
Speaking with Maroons captain Brigginshaw during the week, she's been blown away by how far the women's game has come in the past 12 months.
Just this week Brigginshaw was approached by an Indian woman and her daughter at the Maroons' fan day with the little girl telling her that she was her favourite player and one day she wants to play for Queensland.
After dominating the Women's Interstate Challenge with 16 victories in 19 years, the Maroons were left licking their wounds after the Blues escaped with a 16-10 win at North Sydney Oval.
Spending time with the Maroons side in camp this week, I can tell you that the girls are smarting after last year's loss and are keen for revenge in 2019.
The Maroons have class across the park with the likes of Broncos premiership winners Chelsea Baker, Meg Ward, Amber Pilley, Heather Ballinger, Brittany Breayley and Brigginshaw (if fit) and they'll also welcome back Jenni Sue-Hoepper for the clash.
Sue-Hiepper created history in 2015 by winning the inaugural Women's Dally M Award, but missed last year's match due to family reasons.
Amy Turner's inclusion on the Maroons bench is also an incredible story.
Having won gold at the Rio Olympics as part of Australia's Women's 7s team, Turner was inspired to return to rugby league after watching last year's State of Origin encounter.
After a two-try performance last year, New South Wales centre Isabelle Kelly will again be the one to watch for the Blues.
Kelly is a try-scoring machine having posted three tries in four games for the Sydney Roosters in the NRLW, as well as an incredible nine tries in six games for the Jillaroos.
There was nothing between these two sides last year and I'm tipping another close one, with the Maroons to call on that Queensland spirit to avenge last year's loss.
Don't miss the Women's State of Origin clash Friday night at 7.30pm, LIVE, ad-break free during play and in HD on FOX LEAGUE and streamed on FOXTEL NOW. Sign up today at Foxtel.com