Three young Newcastle stars have been named in the NSW Women’s Under-18s Origin squad to face Queensland in the historic double header at North Sydney Oval.
As reported by the Chronicle in May, red-and-blue trio Olivia Kernick, Caitlan Johnston, and Joeli Morris have been included in the 18-player squad for the inaugural juniors curtain-raiser ahead of the Women’s State of Origin battle.
Kernick, Johnston, and Morris’ announcements that they will take part in the North Sydney Oval double-header on Friday, June 21 means the amount of Newcastle representatives descending on the marquee event has been boosted to seven.
Just last week, Kylie Hilder (hooker), Hannah Southwell (lock), and Isabelle Kelly (centre) were named in the Blues’ starting lineup as they look to defend their back-to-back Origin wins from 2017 and 2018. Holli Wheeler, who plays second row for CRL Newcastle, will begin on the bench for the NSW representative squad.
In the junior match, Kernick and Johnston have both been named to start in the second row, with the edge forwards looking to bring major impact to the match early. Morris, who was a leading tryscorer for the Knights as they finished runners-up in the 2018 Tarsha Gale Cup series, will wear the No.17 jumper after being named on the bench.
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“It’s just so unexpected, and kind of weird,” Kernick told the Chronicle after news first began to break in May. “I’ve watched the boys play Origin for so long, and now the girls are getting it too, and I haven’t really wrapped my head around it just yet.
“I had no idea that just a year later I would be part of it all with the Under 18’s either. Going to the training camp already and meeting the team has been great, and I’ve already learned so much. It’s scary, yeah, but it’s also really, really exciting.”
The match is the first time an Under-18s Women’s Origin match has been played and will precede the Origin match. The team will be coached by Illawarras’ Daniel Lacey and will train at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence when camp begins on Tuesday, June 18.
NSW Women’s Under-18s Origin squad: 1. Tess Staines, 2. Teagan Berry, 3. Jaime Chapman, 4. Mikayla Kidd, 5. Zali Fay, 6. Emily Curtain, 7. Tiana Graham, 8. Maddison Weatherall, 9. Rhiannon Tungai, 10. Filomina Hanisi, 11. Olivia Kernick, 12. Caitlan Johnston, 13. Mareva Swann; Bench: 14. Janaya Bent, 15. Eleni Amone, 16. Sophie Curtain, 17. Joeli Morris, Reserve: 18. Olivia Vale.