Jesse Southwell, a young playmaker for the New South Wales team, is poised for her State of Origin debut, representing the future of women’s rugby league. Southwell draws inspiration from past events, particularly the 2018 women’s interstate match played under the Origin banner, where her older sister’s debut for New South Wales resulted in a 16-10 victory over Queensland. Although just 18 years of age, Southwell has already made a name for herself, becoming the first of a new generation of footballers in the NRLW competition.
Southwell’s experience playing rugby league, with football being her only job, has allowed her to hone her skills over the years. Her NRLW debut at 17 was a clear indication of the young player’s potential, and she has only improved since then. Blues veteran Millie Boyle describes Southwell as being one of those players who has always been able to play footy and has been in professional environments from a young age. With so much experience, Southwell is getting better with every game she plays and is now a natural fit for Origin.
Southwell’s skill has put the Blues in a stronger position as warm favourites to win the opening match of the series, although Queensland’s Tamika Upton, the Maroons‘ fullback and one of their strike weapons, poses a threat to Southwell’s ambitions. Southwell describes Upton as being like family as they are housemates in Newcastle.
Southwell’s sister, who is currently injured, has prepared her for the Origin arena, but Southwell’s natural skill and exuberance have readied her for making her mark from the opening whistle. Southwell has no expectations other than having fun and playing good footy, something she loves doing. The Blues will need Southwell’s talents if they are to claim victory in the opening match of the series, but the young playmaker is ready to take on the challenge.