They are the best of mates when they run out wearing the black, white and blue but there will be no room for friendship should Talesha Quinn and Nita Maynard meet at the women’s rugby league World Cup.
The fifth staging on the tournament kicks off on Thursday, with the Sutherland Shire to play an integral part in the competition. Southern Cross Group Stadium at Woolooware will host all the pool matches in three triple headers as well as the semi-finals.
New Zealand open the tournament against Canada, with Australia to take on the Cook Islands in the following match. England and Papua New Guinea round out the opening triple header.
And Quinn and Maynard, who played for the Cronulla Sharks in their women’s series this season and even trained together in the lead up to the tournament, will put their friendship to one side for the next fortnight as the Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns battle for a place in the final at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The pair walked vastly different paths to the World Cup. Quinn, originally from Parkes, moved to Townsville four years ago after joining the army. But the 28-year-old came back to Sydney at the end of last year to chase her dream with the Sharks, which led to a place in the NSW team that defended the Nellie Doherty trophy, winning the women's State of Origin game against Queensland 22-6.
Maynard, from Gisbourne on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island, had a strong rugby union background before joining the Sharks, even representing Australia in rugby sevens.
“It’s huge. I always get goosebumps when I think about [playing in the World Cup],” Quinn told the Leader.
“It wasn’t even a goal for me at the end of last year. For me I just wanted to get a run on jersey for NSW and win the game. When I saw the girls on telly win it last year I thought I want to be there.
“To play with Ru [Ruan Sims] as well in the Aussie team and girls like Steph Hancock and Renae Kunst who have been playing for so many years and sacrificed so much... some of the girls have sold their cars to go to a World Cup. To see how much further the game has gone and hopefully to play in a World Cup final and actually win it, [and] send those girls out with a bang would be crazy.”
The final, on December 2, will be played as a double header with the men’s final. It is a spectacle neither Quinn or Maynard, a mum of one, want to miss.
“We’re definitely here to win it. I feel like everyone is,” Maynard said.
“It’s so competitive, I know that they’re my friends but I know they’ll be going out to do their country proud and I’ll be trying to do the same. Put my best foot forward and hopefully be a part of [the final].
“We’ve got to get through our round games undefeated [but] hopefully we get to face off for a Kiwis-Jillaroos final. I feel that’s what everyone is gunning for and wants to see. So I hope we can live up to expectations and do our part.”