Brothers stars set for world cup test
BROTHERS Ipswich star Ali Brigginshaw may not be part of the official Jillaroos leadership group, but she knows her Women's Rugby League World Cup experience will be pivotal when the first game gets underway on November 16.
The 27 year-old is one of just nine players with previous World Cup experience named in the 24-woman squad.
"They always say I may not be a captain or anything but it's important that I be a leader (in the team),” Brigginshaw said following the news she had been selected in the squad.
"I was under (former Jillaroo and 2013 World Cup captain) Karyn Murphy for a long time, so it's about using the experiences I have learnt from the best and pass that on to the newer girls.”
The 2013 Ipswich Sportsperson of the Year had been a mainstay of the Jillaroos for a number of years before a broken leg threatened to end her international career.
She returned to play a key role again this year, but admitted there were still nerves ahead of the call confirming her selection in the team.
"I wasn't sure I would make it, but I got the phone call on Friday to say I did and I was stoked,” the Ripley product said.
Brothers teammate and reigning Queensland Representative Player of the Year Brittany Breayley was also named for her World Cup debut.
However Kody House and Amelia Kuk were unlucky to miss out.
Brigginshaw said their non-selection had nothing to do with not being good enough, but rather the performances of their NSW counterparts in the interstate series - in which the Blues dominated this year - was difficult to overlook.
"I think if they played any other position they'd probably be there, but NSW won the interstate challenge by a lot so they proved themselves in those positions,” Brigginshaw said.
"I spoke to Lala (Kuk), she sent me a message saying congratulations.
"She's only new to the game, it's only her first year so to have achieved what she has already is amazing.
"There's plenty of time for her. Some of the girls that made the team have been in the system for 10 years, some for one.
"She can certainly be disappointed, but also grateful to have been a part of it.”
The Brigginshaw/Breayley combination helped Brothers to the South East Queensland Division 1 grand final this season.
There is no happier person in the Jillaroos camp than Brigginshaw to have her Ipswich teammate at hooker.
"Brittany is the nine in every team I play in, and there's nothing better than knowing the person you've played with all year is there beside you,” Brigginshaw said.
"You know what she's going to do, what she's thinking and vice versa so it definitely helps.
"Brittany is a strong defender, but she also controls the game in the middle and that's rare to come by, I think that's the big thing she helps us with.”
Brigginshaw was part of the Jillaroos team which won a maiden World Cup title in England in 2013. It is with those teammates in mind she hopes to make it back-to-back wins for Australia.
"I'm not just playing for my family and the girls in the team, but those from that last World Cup because I know and they know how good a feeling that was,” Brigginshaw said. "Nothing can compare to winning that trophy in England.”
With 15 players set to make their World Cup debuts on November 16, the emphasis has been placed on embracing the playing group past and present.
"We've had past players come in and talk about their experiences and the culture they experienced, and I think that's really starting to rub off on the new girls,” Brigginshaw said.
"It's about everyone that has worn a Jillaroos jersey. We've used it as motivation to become a different, better team.”
The 2013 captain Murphy is now an assistant coach with the Jillaroos, and Brigginshaw was glowing in her praise of her former teammate.
"It feels like she's still playing even though she's not, having her with us makes a huge difference,” Brigginshaw said of Murphy.
"She played in the halves her whole life; her insight, in helping the new halves which have come into the team has just been fantastic.”
New Zealand and England loom as the biggest hurdles between the Jillaroos and a second World Cup title, but Brigginshaw has confidence the current crop of players has what it takes.
"I think it's given the girls confidence to know it wasn't just a one-off when we beat them,” Brigginshaw said in reference to April's 16-4 Anzac Test victory. "But that doesn't mean they're not working harder and getting stronger.
"New Zealand are such a skilful team, but England are also very strong.
"At the 2013 World Cup England was one of the hardest teams we've ever played.”
The Jillaroos go into camp early next month ahead of their first match of the competition against Cook Islands on November 16.