The Queensland Maroons might be underdogs ahead of their Women’s State of Origin clash with New South Wales on Friday night – but expect them to come out firing.
After losing the past two interstate series, Queensland believes asserting authority through its forwards is the blueprint for beating New South Wales at North Sydney Oval.
Jason Hetherington’s team has put an emphasis on defence during training – including tackling coaching from former Maroons hitman Trevor ‘The Axe’ Gillmeister – and will be looking to rule the middle of the field.
Queensland lock Annette Brander knows first-hand the kind of intensity expected throughout the match, given she copped the brunt of a classic Gillmeister piledriver last week in a practice drill.
“It’s been a really good experience having [Gillmeister] in camp,” Brander told The Women’s Game.
“Being able to learn from some of the best is really good for us.
“It’s helped me defensively being able to learn from him. I definitely wouldn’t want to be on the end of one his tackles back in the day in a game, that’s for sure.
“[The tackling sessions have been] a massive learning curve and it’s really helped us a lot … It’s about making sure our defence is strong and we have an impact. We really want to get in and muscle up against the Blues,” she said.
While Brander is usually a centre or back-rower, the 25-year-old said she’s eager to wear the Queensland No.13 jersey and inject herself into the thick of the action.
“I’m really excited for the challenge. I’ve always loved the defensive part of the game, so I’m keen to be in the middle and get a bit more traffic,” she said.
Brander was a member of the Jillaroos’ 2017 World Cup-winning squad, but said a victory in the first official Women’s Origin this weekend would be among her most cherished achievements.