Upton’s stunning Origin debut earns her further honours
RUGBY league sensation Tamika Upton has come a step closer to a 2021 World Cup berth after she was named in the Jillaroos Merit Squad at the weekend.
The selection came hot on the heels of her starring role in Queensland's historic State of Origin win on Friday night.
The star fullback scored two tries, the first a stunning 80m solo effort, in the Maroons 24-18 win over New South Wales at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
It was the first time a women's State of Origin had been played in Queensland and the first time the Maroons had won under that banner.
Upton was one of nine debutants in the line-up, and her inspirational performance earned her Players' Player honours.
Her parents Tracy and Cameron and siblings Koby and Lorri were among the sell-out crowd at the game.
Upton said the win was "incredibly special".
"We've had the two weeks in camp together leading up to this moment and we got the job done," she said.
"The crowd was amazing, definitely lifted the spirits up."
The Maroons were coached by Central Queensland league legend Jason Hetherington, who said he was "extremely proud" of his players.
"This has been a couple of years in the making. This is the end result of the hard work that's been done behind the scenes," he said.
"The girls, what they did tonight, was amazing.
"Six-all at half-time and into a stiff breeze in the second half… they worked hard.
"I thought the first 10 minutes was crucial for us; we dominated that and I thought it got us on the front foot, which helped in the end result."
Hetherington made special mention of Upton and five-eighth Tarryn Aiken, who was awarded the Nellie Doherty Medal as Player of the Match.
"Taryn and Tamika were outstanding," he said.
"Queensland Origin's in good shape for a long period. There's a wealth of talent there."