Amelia Kuk’s overcome some major hurdles to earn her place in the Queensland team for the inaugural Women’s State of Origin match tomorrow night.
The dual rugby league international centre was injured playing for the Papua New Guinea Orchids at last year’s Women’s Rugby League World Cup.
Although initially disappointed to miss out on a spot in Jillaroos coach Brad Donald ’s professionally contracted squad of 40 players, the frank and honest speedster said it ended up being a blessing in disguise.
“I probably learnt a lesson I needed to go work on my knee in rehab," Kuk said.
“I should have taken the time off from all the (pre-season camp) rep and stuff and the depression (due to the injury), I just couldn’t focus on getting my knee right and I think it took me four to five months to get back uninjured.
“That probably would have taken me six to eight weeks if I’d done it right.
“But it was harder to come back mentally than physically, but I’m just happy to be back again amongst the girls in the Queensland jersey and I’m very, very grateful to be here," she said.
Kuk said it’s great to be back and a wiser version of herself will run out playing for Queensland this time, given the adversity she overcame to be here.
“I just can’t wait to go out there to play footy again, because it feels like I’ve been away for ages, even though I was in the jersey last year, it feels like the first time because I had to work my way back up again from scratch and it feels like the first time since I made my debut in 2016, so it’s a very exciting feeling," she said.
Not the first footballer to suffer psychological issues when confronted with injury, Kuk said new coach and former Origin great Jason Hetherington added extra sessions for the squad this season, but he’s also made it fun in the Maroons quest to win back the trophy from NSW.
“So we came into camp on Saturday and just had a little run around in the afternoon," she said.
“It’s a different feeling this year, it feels good, good vibes from the team and we’re all a lot closer and we’re doing a lot more team bonding stuff.
“We went to Dreamworld and we’re getting to know each other outside of football," Kuk said.
The 2016 Queensland debutant said the match being a standalone State of Origin fixture, the first of its kind after 19 years of being referred to as the Women’s Interstate Challenge, as well as the Nellie Doherty Cup - indicates how much women’s rugby league has grown in this country.