Upton stars in open debut as Aussies sweep series
TOUCH: Rockhampton's Tamika Upton has her sights firmly set on playing for Australia at the 2019 World Cup after her star showing in this month's Trans-Tasman Series.
The 20-year-old could not have asked for a better Australian open women's debut. She scored five touchdowns in her team's three wins and went on to be named the players' player at the end of the carnival on the Sunshine Coast.
Australia won all nine games played in the three divisions - women's, men's and mixed - completing the series clean sweep for the second year in a row.
The Australian women were particularly dominant, finishing the series with a combined scoreline of 33-12.
Rockhampton's Jayden Benbow was a member of the mixed team for the third consecutive year, and former Rocky rep Cormac Hoch was in the men's team.
It has been a stellar year for Upton who in January played in the Australian under-19 team at the Youth Trans-Tasman Series.
She said the open experience was unforgettable and one she hopes to enjoy again.
"That's probably the best carnival I've played in to date,” she said. "To be named players' player was something pretty special because every single player on the team deserved it.
"It was a great trip all round and it was wonderful to have family and friends there as well.”
Upton said there was a "huge difference” between the youth and open competitions.
"Everything is 10 times harder in open and the whole game style and game play is very different.
"Game two was the pick of them. It was a lot closer (9-6) and we had to work harder to get it which made the win even more enjoyable.”
Upton is determined to keep her spot in the Australian open side and knows that will only come with plenty of hard work and constant improvement.
"The game's always changing and you have to change with it,” she said. "Getting better at everything that you can control, fitness and things like that, is obviously a focus.
"I am keen to retain my spot, and would love to be there for the World Cup in Malaysia in 2019.”