Gold Coast Airport Tweed Heads Seagulls’ Jessika Elliston has made history by becoming the first Seagulls women’s player to be chosen to play at State of Origin level with her selection in the Queensland team to take on New South Wales during representative weekend.
The 21-year-old, who only moved to rugby league this season in the inaugural Tweed side after a background in rugby sevens, is a fast and skilful back-rower who will represent the state she has played Sevens for during the clash at North Sydney Oval on Friday, June 21.
Elliston also becomes the first Tweed Heads Seagulls player to enter the Origin arena since Ben Ikin was a shock selection in the depleted, yet history-making, Maroons side in 1995 that won the series 3-0 despite being massive underdogs while Super League-aligned players were banned from selection.
Women’s team coach Kelvin Wright, who will back up as the Brisbane Broncos coach in the Women’s NRL competition in August, says Elliston’s quick rise to prominence is a reward not just for her obvious talent but her relentless hard work.
Elliston and Seagulls halfback Tarryn Aiken were impressive performers for South East Queensland in last week’s national championships at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast.
“Jessika’s Origin selection is not fluke; she trains hard, is extremely fit and super competitive,” Wright said.
“It’s a great reward for her, the team and the whole club. We’re very proud of her; Jessika’s teammates, the staff and everyone here who support her could not be happier for her.
“To have Tarryn and Jessika in the SEQ team was a big achievement for a first-season team and to now have an Origin player is the next level.
“Jessika is a great fun person to have around the team and is someone who supplies plenty of laughter but, when it’d down to business, no one puts in more.”
Unfortunately, Elliston will be missing from the Seagulls side that takes on Easts at Piggabeen Sports Complex tomorrow (12.15pm kick-off) in the South-East Queensland division one competition.
Tweed have hit a tough stretch with injuries with seven players out with long-term problems including CJ Sims, Chantelle Schofield, Shelley Fox, Chene Clydesdale, Brittany Faulkner, Jessica Vannucci and Alison Trevaskis. Easts have won three of their six games, and the Seagulls two.
“We’re missing a fair chunk of our team but we still field plenty of good players and one thing I know is that the effort will always be there and, the way they play, they won’t die wondering,” Wright said.
Fellow Seagulls teammates CJ Sims and Teaghan Hartigan have also been selected in Fiji’s team to take on the Papua New Guinea Orchids the same weekend, on Sunday June 22 at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney. If they play (CJ has been sidelined with a fractured cheekbone), they will be the club’s first women’s international representatives.
PHOTO courtesy SMP Images.