And what followed the Blues’ 20-14 win over the Maroons in Canberra was a powerful message by legendary NSW Origin coach Phil Gould.
“They’ve sold it to the Australian public,” Gould said on Nine’s post-game coverage.
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“I’ve said a couple of times in the lead-up to this, it kind of sounds patronising by saying it’s a women’s game and the women’s game is improving.
“It’s rugby league – it’s just played by women. It’s got all of the elements of rugby league in it now. You don’t get any more power and passion and speed and skill than what we just saw out there.”
One exceptional moment resulted in an Emma Tonegato try, when the Blues fullback raced to plant a Keeley Davis grubber.
The ball jolted up but Tonegato had the skill to roll with it, lapping up the footy and jamming it down just before the dead-ball line.
The 11,321-strong crowd was also treated to pulverising hits dealt out by NSW winger Yasmin Clydsdale and Queensland playmaker Tiana-Raftstrand-Smith.
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“It’s a game that they own now … and they’ve sold their brand of football and it’s brilliant,” Gould said.
Queensland Origin icon Darren Lockyer had towering words of his own.
“If you haven’t watched the women play the game before and you come and watch, the physicality is what really is unexpected. They play with passion and they play with physicality,” Lockyer said.
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“But I think in the last five years I’ve just seen their skill level go, particularly with their kicking game, their passing game …
“That’s because the resources are now around them to give them the training and the coaching they need.
“The physicality has always been there. It’s just the finesse that’s coming into it now as they evolve.”
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