Talesha Quinn signs with St George Illawarra Dragons

Parkes product Talesha Quinn has made history, not only for her home town but for women’s rugby league in Australia, by being one of the first signings for this year’s NRL Holden Women’s Premiership.

St George Illawarra Dragons announced on June 5 the first three initial recruits of its 22-woman squad who will participate in the inaugural competition, with Quinn joining fellow Jillaroos Sam Bremner and Kezie Apps.

The now 29-year-old has become one of the very first women to be paid to play rugby league.

In March the NRL announced four teams – Brisbane Broncos, St George Illawarra Dragons, Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors – will compete in the 2018 premiership, which takes place on the first weekend of September.

After the Cronulla Caringbah Sharks – a side Quinn signed a two-year contract with in 2017 – missed out on a licence, she admitted she was a little worried about “even being offered” a contract.

“It was a scary time for me,” she said.

“But I was lucky enough to be contacted by three clubs – Roosters first, then Dragons and Broncos.

“It was a very good position to be in.”

With connections to the Illawarra, previously playing and living in the area, the Dragons were a first choice for Quinn.

She’s also familiar with Dragons’ newly appointed women’s coach, Daniel Lacey, who was involved in 2012 when she was playing for Illawarra.

“Kezie Apps and Sammy Bremner are the two main reasons I came back to Wollongong to play with the Dragons,” Quinn said.

“I'm really close with both of them, especially my ‘twinny’ Kezie. To have great people and amazing footy players around you, it only ever lifts you up and makes you want to play better. 

“It's such a surreal feeling, I didn't even think it was possible (to play in the first women’s NRL competition) when I came down from Townsville to start playing again.

“Off the back of our World Cup win (last November), it got great exposure and people wanted to see more.

“So they pushed it forward from 2020 to this year. I think for me it won't feel real until I pull that Dragons jersey on and run out at Win Stadium.”

And within a week, Quinn was announced in the NSW Rugby League side for the Holden Women's State of Origin on Friday, June 22 at North Sydney Oval.

On social media, she described the moment as it still feeling like the first time she was selected.

“I’m so overwhelmed to be selected for the NSW Blues, especially with it getting re-branded State of Origin,” Quinn said.

“The team was selected by all our club games during the year and at the national championships on June 3.

“There’s so much talent coming through which makes everyone push harder.”

With the State of Origin being just one game for the women at this stage, Quinn is confident it won’t be long until it becomes three.

“I'm very confident, give it another few years and we will have three games! The quality of footy at that level is amazing and it’s honestly the hardest game I've ever played in.”

Quinn will go into Origin camp on Sunday for a week to, as she said, “hopefully tip over them Queenslanders” again.

Then it will be back to club footy in her bid to reach the finals with Cronulla Caringbah.

Quinn plans to move to Wollongong from Sydney for the seven-week period of the women’s NRL premiership.

The Dragons will look after her accommodation and she will remain with the Australian Army full-time.

“They are very supportive of my playing in this competition, which I’m very grateful for,” Quinn said.

Her latest selections, add another two notches to her footy belt and evergrowing, impressive career.

“It's crazy what I've achieved, I haven't really sat back and taken it all in,” she said.

“For me I just wanted to play rugby league again and be involved with my mates and have fun.

“And everything else for me is just a huge bonus! I'm living my dream everyday and I have the Australian Army to thank for that.”

Quinn is hoping Parkes people will turn-out for the Women’s State of Origin on June 22 at North Sydney Oval at 7.30pm.

“Tickets are $10 – I’d love to get Parkes people to the game, you won't be disappointed!” She said.