Dynasty-chasing NSW bent on smash-and-grab win

Joanna Guelas |

NSW captain Kezie Apps believes the Blues can beat Queensland in the State of Origin opener.
NSW captain Kezie Apps believes the Blues can beat Queensland in the State of Origin opener.

NSW Origin captain Kezie Apps believes a new era is on the horizon for the state, and it begins with taking down Queensland in enemy territory.

Top of the agenda for the dynasty-chasing Blues is to pull off what their male counterparts have struggled to do: a successful smash-and-grab mission at Suncorp Stadium.

The May 16 clash will be the first time a women’s stand-alone Origin match has been played at the venue, giving NSW an opportunity to forge their own history in the three-game series.

NSW men have lost 10 of the past 13 matches at the Brisbane fortress, but their hoodoo means nothing to Apps, who is confident her side can buck the trend.

“Well, steel sharpens steel,” Apps told AAP.

“At the moment it literally can be anyone’s game.

“When Queensland started versing NSW years and years ago, when I first started, I used to get told stories about how Queensland would flog us and they’d won for, like, 15 years in a row.

“I was like, ‘What? NSW have not even come close to beating them?’

“Obviously that shifted in 2015 when we had a draw, and then 2016 was the first time that we actually beat Queensland.

“From there we were on a four-year winning streak, but it’s because we had a lot more support behind us and we had a bit more investment in that space.

“I feel like the more we get invested in the women’s game, the more high-quality the game is going to be.”

The Blues’ preparations for the interstate series have been overhauled this year following the move of the NSW Premiership to the second half of the season, at the same time as the NRLW competition.

Faced with no club competition, the 36-strong squad underwent a seven-week camp, which included three in-house match simulations.

Apps was among a number of NSW players who briefly relocated to Queensland to get some footy under their belt.

“The training camp was probably the best situation that we could put ourselves in with no competition,” Apps said.

“I know a few of us did play up in Queensland, but a majority of the girls didn’t, so it was probably the first time in a long time that they’re able to just really focus on themselves and to train really hard. 

“We had that environment where we could replicate playing the games as well. 

“I feel like a lot of the girls will be better for it.”