Quinn makes most of second chance
Meet the Australian Jillaroo who moved interstate for a second chance to chase a World Cup dream, and why she has her now NSW teammates to thank for it.
Talesha Quinn was at home in Townsville in 2016 – four years after relocating from Sydney to work in the army – when she watched on as her home state NSW broke a 17-year drought to win their first women's State of Origin game 8-4 against Queensland.
The then 23-year-old quit the Blues set-up years earlier to play park footy and accommodate her full-time job in North Queensland – until that league was abruptly cancelled.
"There was a massive comp at the time up there and it stopped so I was kind of gutted and transferred over to union for four years," Quinn said.
While the union stint was enjoyable, the Jillaroos back-rower listed the Blues' historic victory over their Maroon counterparts as the turning point.
"I thought I need to be there and be a part of that [again]," Quinn said.
"I was pretty much willing to leave the army and move to Sydney because I knew how big this year would be for the women's game."
And off she went, requesting a transfer back to NSW – a place she has always called home.
"I flew down to Sydney on a weekend and trialled and got my contract two weeks later [with Cronulla in the female competition]," said Quinn, who grew up in Parkes in country NSW.
"That was a huge achievement for me. I think I was the fifth player to get contracted.
"People have sacrificed a lot, so to get recognition and get money for that is awesome to be a part of."
What came next was beyond her imagination.
NSW coach Jamie Feeney called the Sharks forward to offer her a chance to take part in an Origin program, which later led to selection.
"I said 'you sure you got the right player?'" Quinn said.
"I didn't believe it. My only goal this year was to get back into the side. To then beat the Queenslanders on home soil - which was another first for the women's game - was huge."
The Blues' successful defence of the trophy led to 14 NSW players being picked for the World Cup, which kicks off on November 16 at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
For Quinn, selection in the green and gold surpassed all expectations.
"Being in the camp with the girls is awesome," Quinn said.
"To play in a World Cup with these girls who have so much experience and started from having to pay [for] all their stuff… I always get goose bumps thinking about it.
"To put on that green and gold jersey would mean everything to me. It's not often the girls get to do that."
Quinn feels lucky to reap the rewards experienced campaigners like joint captains Steph Hancock, Ruan Sims and Renae Kunst fought so hard to achieve over the years.
"I feel like I made the right choice," she said.
"With us playing on Fox Sports and over in PNG, it feels like it's all just taking off. We play the game because we love the game, money isn't an issue.
"Every girl in this team deserves to play."
With her disrupted career now back on track, Quinn has a final goal after achieving her World Cup goal.
"I hope I'm still around to see an NRL competition for females," Quinn said.
"That's my ultimate goal, but obviously if I'm not I'll still be around the game and help promote it."
This article first appeared on NRL.com