There’s no doubt the Australian Jillaroos 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup campaign was a very emotional one for Parkes product Talesha Quinn.
At the time she said all she wanted to do was experience “that feeling” – the feeling of winning a World Cup.
After an intense four weeks of training, setting out on their campaign and winning the tournament undefeated, Quinn has returned home to Sydney, and she’s only just getting her voice back.
“I’ve been screaming and singing my lungs out and just celebrating,” the now World Cup champion said on Wednesday.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet.
“It’s now back to reality – I have to cook my own food now and clean my own room, I had it so good while I was away,” she laughed.
“It’s my first day back at work today after four weeks.”
Quinn – a current Cronulla Shark player – made her debut with the Jillaroos in their first World Cup match against the Cook Islands on November 16 at the Southern Cross Group Stadium – her home ground.
“I was freaking out,” she said, describing how she was feeling before the game.
“I think I vomited three times, the girls were telling me ‘it’s fine, it’ll be fine’ and it always is but it just shows how much it means to us girls.
“And it was the first home game in Australia for a World Cup.”
The second rower didn’t let the nerves get the better of her and she gave what she said was her best performance of her campaign.
“I had all my family attend the first game and I scored on debut, I was so stoked,” she said.
“It was unreal, I won’t forget it.”
And what a try it was, in the 33rd minute, fending off three players on a 40 metre run – something which Quinn said she’s never done in her career.
“I’ve never palmed anyone off before – I thought ‘you’re not touching me’,” she said.
“It was an insane feeling.”
Quinn also got through a mountain of defence in that game, making 32 tackles for the Jillaroos and the hosts winning 58-4.
Quinn was named on the starting side to play England in the Jillaroos’ second pool game on November 19, during which Quinn said she was a lot calmer.
“I knew what I had to do and we knew England was going to be our hardest game in our pool rounds,” she said.
“I didn’t get too much of the ball though, I mainly defended.
“But I love tackling, my favourite part of the game is defending.”
She was rested during the Canada game on November 22 but was named on the starting side in the semi final, also against Canada.
And in an unexpected performance, Quinn scored her second World Cup try and the Jillaroos won 58-6.
There were 24 girls, everyone deserved a spot in that final.Talesha Quinn
With the Aussies going into the World Cup final undefeated on December 2 – just like the New Zealand Ferns – Quinn admitted she was devastated when she wasn’t selected in the top 17 to play.
“I think I cried for two days – it’s the pinnacle to play in the World Cup final,” she said.
“There were 24 girls, everyone deserved a spot in that final.
“But I played three games already...I had to put things into perspective.”
While it looked like the game could have gone either way at Suncorp Stadium, feelings on the field and the sideline were intense.
“Being on the sideline was the worst thing because I couldn’t help,” Quinn said.
“The first half was the worst half we’ve ever played.”
Quinn said they were expecting their coach, Bathurst man Brad Donald, to come down and yell at them during half time.
“But he didn’t, he was super calm,” she said.
“He knew how bad we wanted that game.”
Quinn said she felt nothing but relief when Caitlin Moran kicked that field goal with 11 seconds left to claim the tournament 23-16.
“It was a rollercoaster of emotions,” she said.
“Finally I have that feeling and doing what we set out to achieve.
“I felt sick but it was a good sick. I soaked up every minute...I just didn’t want to leave the stadium...it was so good to have so many people there.”
They done a lap of the stadium, signed autographs and posed for photos.
In total Quinn made 70 tackles, had 26 hit ups and scored two tries during her World Cup campaign.
She’s now looking forward to spending Christmas and some downtime with her family before returning to the Sharks for the 2018 season.
“I’d like to thank my family – I feel like the World Cup brought my family together and thank my dad for coming over from Thailand,” Quinn said.
“I also want to thank everyone from Parkes who’ve been so supportive during my campaign, all my coaching staff over the years and anyone who believed in me.”
And Quinn hasn’t ruled out another World Cup in her future either.
“I hope to make the next World Cup if I’m not too old and broken,” she laughed.