Cross-code star Tonegato weighs up future

Scott Bailey |

Cross-code star and St George Illawarra sensation Emma Tonegato is unsure if she will stick with rugby league and make herself available for State of Origin and the World Cup.

Tonegato has been one of the stars of the Dragons’ march towards the NRLW semi-finals, ahead of Sunday’s clash with Gold Coast.

With Tonegato at the back, the Dragons are widely considered the most likely team to end Brisbane’s run of three straight titles.

But the 26-year-old herself is unsure what her future holds.

A Rugby Sevens star and gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Tonegato represented Australia in rugby league at the 2013 World Cup.

She then returned to the sport late last year, busting 20 tackles, scoring three tries and setting up just as many in the five-game regular season.

Tonegato would likely be first pick for NSW’s State of Origin team at fullback this year with incumbent Botille Vette-Welsh suffering an ACL rupture while playing for Parramatta.

A spot in Australia’s end-of-year World Cup squad is also likely with Tonegato a genuine contender for the Dally M Medal when it is announced on Thursday.

But the 26-year-old remains unsigned for the NSW Premiership which begins later this month as she juggles a start to her career in occupational therapy, and is non-committal on a second NRLW season this year.

“I think I’m just going to reassess at the end of the (current NRLW) season,” Tonegato told AAP.

“The contracts are starting to come out at the end of this season, but I’ve got a full-time job and been a working girl for the past few months. 

“I am really enjoying my time at the Dragons, they’re an awesome club. That’s where I’m at, so we’ll just reassess at the end of this season.”

Pushed further on whether the recently announced improved contracts for the end-of-season competition and beyond would help, Tonegato said she was still unsure.

“I’m just at the point in my life where I am just looking to be happy and play whatever sport makes me happy,” she said.

Sunday’s semi-final marks the Dragons’ first foray back into the big games since their loss to Brisbane in the 2019 decider.

They went winless through the 2020 season, before flogging the Titans 20-12 in the opener and dropping just the one game to Brisbane by four points.

“At the start of the year we weren’t predicted to win a game by a lot of people,” coach Jamie Soward said.

“I don’t see it as us going in as favourites (against Gold Coast). It’s two teams that have made the finals.

“But we know who we are, we just have to execute.”