With the honor of four National Rugby League Women’s (NRLW) premierships, two Karyn Murphy Medals, and the coveted Dally M player-of-the-year title, Tamika Upton has already made a indelible mark in the world of rugby. Her next ambition is to make her debut in Jillaroos, a feat she hopes to accomplish later this month.
Recently identified as the world’s best player, Upton demonstrated her prowess in the recent NRLW grand final, stepping up with two late tries to secure back-to-back premierships for Newcastle against the dominating Titans. This accomplishment caps off her stellar performance, a shimmering trophy to an already impressive career.
Despite her league victories, a debut for Australia remains elusive due to a calf injury that sidelined her last year. However, with the forthcoming Pacific Championships, where Jillaroos are hosting New Zealand, Upton hopes to finally don the green and gold of Australia.
Last year saw Sam Bremner attaining an impressive 50-point victory over the Kiwi Ferns in the World Cup final with Teagan Berry and Evania Pelite rivalling for the No.1 jersey. Yet, with Bremner’s retirement, the field is open for new challengers.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Upton’s ambitions are clear. “Playing for my country has been a longstanding goal, but I’ve learnt to take life one day at a time,” she shared. Despite the attention, Upton remains grounded, attributing her success to a supportive team and her fitness.
Upton’s dominance in the sport has drawn attention, with many now placing her among the greatest female players in the sport’s history. Knights halfback Jesse Southwell is one of Upton’s most vociferous supporters, claiming that she is currently unparalleled in the game.
18-year-old Southwell, herself a promising player, is also in line for a Jillaroos debut. Yet, she candidly expressed her doubts about her selection, given the strong competition.
Southwell may not yet have received confirmation of a team position from coach Brad Donald, but she remains optimistic. Despite the uncertainty, she is content with contributing to the Newcastle team and strongly feels that many of her underrated teammates merit consideration for Jillaroos and Origin.
In the end, the youngster shrugged off the speculation, concluding, “Whatever happens, happens. I wish all the best to the Jillaroos and whoever gets picked.”