Joint Dally M winners Millie Boyle and Emma Tonegato will cast aside their NRLW club rivalries to join forces in the NSW side as they hope to snatch back the Origin shield from Queensland after two years of defeat.
The Blues and Maroons go head-to-head for the 2022 Ampol Women’s State of Origin at GIO Stadium in Canberra on Thursday night with Boyle and Tonegato two of the key figures for NSW.
It is the first time Boyle (Broncos and now Knights) and Tonegato (Dragons) representatives will be wearing the same colours, but both players are looking forward to linking up.
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News Corp joined the pair for an exclusive Q&A to reveal what has been happening in the NSW camp before kick-off, what aspect of their game they think will help them beat Queensland and who of their opponents they will be looking to target.
News Corp: What are you looking forward to most for the 2022 State of Origin game?
Emma Tonegato: I am looking forward to playing with some of the best players in the women’s game, players which I had to verse in NRLW and now am fortunate enough to call teammates.
NC: Who is the team looking to target or watch out for in particular from the Maroons squad?
ET: I think Ali Brigginshaw is always such a threat. She is such an experienced player who controls the game really well and everyone feeds off her.
NC: How have the debutants performed in camp and found the experience thus far?
ET: As one of the debutants I have had such a great time in camp so far. It’s really special being around such like minded and women who are at the top of their game.
The fullback is also a Rugby Sevens Olympic medallist after having won gold in Rio in 2016.
NC: How do you compare preparations for and playing in a State or Origin game to a Rugby Sevens Olympic match?
ET: The two games are completely different sports so it’s a bit tricky to compare but I think they are special in their own right and will always hold a special place in my heart.
The NSW debutant revealed the women’s and men’s squads are untraditionally rooming separately in 2022 to align with NRL protocols.
NC: From your experience, how hard is it to tackle Millie?
ET: Millie is an incredible athlete and an absolute weapon on the field. She runs so hard and fights until the last mite making her extremely difficult to wrestle to the ground.
NC: What is Millie’s secret weapon? How do you think this will give the Sky Blues an edge over the Maroons?
ET: I think her secret weapon is her mindset. She can just take her body to another level and push herself to her absolute limit and I think that will be crucial and prove pivotal in a game as hard as Origin.
NC: What is Millie’s weirdest habit.
ET: She lives in 24-hour time.
NC: Where do you think the 2022 State of Origin game will be won and lost?
Millie Boyle: You never know in Origin, it depends who shows up! At the end of the day, the team that scores more points will win and the team that scores less will lose.
NC: How have you prepared for this Origin and how does this compare to previous years?
MB: Prep has been good. It’s great to be in Canberra and we’re excited for our families to finally come and watch as they haven’t been able to in previous years with Covid and the border restrictions.
NC: Who are you looking forward to coming up against most? Why?
MB: The whole team! We’re ready to play.
NC: How do you prepare for big moments like this, do you do anything special in particular?
MB: Have trust in your ability, teammates, and staff. It’s just another game of footy at the end of the day. Everyone is here because they have earned the right to be here.
The former Brisbane Broncos star, now Newcastle Knights marquee recruit revealed NRL player partner Adam Elliott is “always very supportive” and “can’t wait to cheer on the NSW girls on Friday night”.
NC: What is Emma’s greatest strength as a player in the NSW squad?
MB: Emma is competitive, she’s very fast, hard to tackle, and a weapon in defence.
NC: Can you give an insight into Emma’s pre-game routine?
MB: Emma is very chill pre game and she saves her energy for when she needs it most!
NC: What do you love about playing against and training alongside Emma?
MB: I have always respected her as an opponent, she competes to win in everything she does. Emma brings another level of professionalism to our team and I can’t wait to run out alongside her!