Talented Tamika in a league of her own
RUGBY LEAGUE: Rockhampton's Tamika Upton has played her way into a Queensland Country jersey just weeks into her first full season.
The 22-year-old has represented her country in touch and appears to be on the fast-track to similar honours in her new code.
Upton's selection followed her strong showing for the Central Crows in their 22-16 win over the Northern Marlins in Mackay at the weekend.
It was a quality game of football, with eight incumbent Queensland Maroons in action for their home regions.
Five-eighth Upton was excited to play in such a star-studded contest.
"It was easily the toughest football that I've played and no doubt the next level will be tougher,” she said.
"They had a very big team. The first five to 10 minutes was really tough - I wouldn't want to have been playing in the middle.
"They just bashed each other around but we started putting our points on after that period.”
Upton never expected to be named in the Country team.
"I really didn't think it would happen. My goal this year was just to play for the (Rocky) Rustlers,” she said.
"I didn't believe it. I definitely didn't think I was ready for this next level, but the coach obviously has a different idea.
"This selection is definitely up there considering how new I am to rugby league.”
Queensland Country will compete at the national women's championships at Burleigh from May 30 to June 2.
Upton is under no illusion about how tough the competition there will be.
"It's going to be pretty intense, but I'm just hoping to learn a lot from the weekend,” she said.
Upton played league for several years as a junior. She then enjoyed a stellar touch career before deciding on rugby league at the urgings of pundits who could see her undeniable potential.
After impressing at the Rocky Nines carnival, she decided to have a serious tilt at league and joined Yeppoon Seagulls this year.
She said tackling was the hardest thing to master.
"I'm OK with getting tackled but tackle techniques are very hard, especially because I am a bit taller,” she said.
Upton is not looking too far ahead, and wants to take her league career "one step at a time”.
"I want to keep enjoying club football and hopefully we do well this season. I'm just going with the flow and we'll see what happens.”
QUEENSLAND COUNTRY TEAM
- Chelsea Baker (Central Crows, Rhiannon Revell-Blair (Central Crows), Elle Stitt (Central Crows), Zeah Lane (Central Crows), Romy Teitzel (Northern Marlins), Tamika Upton (Central Crows), Jenni-Sue Hoepper (Central Crows), Heather Ballinger (Northern Marlins), Brittany Breayley (Northern Marlins), Steph Hancock (Central Crows), Steph Mooka (Northern Marlins), Annette Brander (Central Crows), Brianna Clark (Northern Marlins), Lana Sheedy (Central Crows), Riutoto Te Hiko (Northern Marlins), Deb Barchard (Central Crows), Layla Fauid (Central Crows), Mariah Storch (Central Crows), Shania Power (Northern Marlins)