After injuries cost her a State of Origin spot, Jess Sergis could be forgiven for thinking that 2018 was going to be a year to forget.
Particularly after the accelerated 2017 season where she made her interstate debut after just five games of Rugby League and scored a hat-trick in the process, the start of this year was completely polarising with just three games in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership and not playing in that Origin clash.
In the space of a just month, she’s turned her entire year on its head.
She returned from injury in the inaugural NRLW competition for the St George Illawarra Dragons, and completely dominated from the get-go.
Heavily concussed in the first game from a brutal head clash, her toughness was personified when she wanted to play on and the video went viral. People took notice and needed no further convincing of her talent in the final two games where she broke 12 tackles, scored a try at centre and was named the Rookie of the Year.
Now, she’s been picked to debut for the Australian Jillaroos to cap off what has been a remarkable period for the rising star.
“It was a bit of a rocky road this year with my career, I’ve had a few injuries,” Sergis said.
“It’s definitely planned out a lot better than I expected and hoped, but I’m so excited and so honoured.”
“It’s pretty surreal really, it’s my debut this year, so I’m really excited to put on the green and gold jersey and play next week against New Zealand.”
Sergis had a sniff of representing her country when she was picked to play Papua New Guinea last year, although it was more of a development team than the official Jillaroos.
She stunned Queensland last year. She stunned the NRLW and the public this year. She’s hoping it’s the same story when she makes her debut against New Zealand this Saturday.
“PNG I was pretty stoked with that as well; it’s more of a development squad so I think this year to put on an actual green and gold jersey and play next week it’s obviously a dream come true,” Sergis said.
“I honestly don’t know what to expect as this is my first Test match, so I’m just excited to get in with the girls and train hard, do some video on them and the little things like that.
“I know they’re going to be a great side and we’re just going to have to be the better one if we’re going to get the win.”
The Jillaroos won the World Cup last year, so the added pressure of maintaining their dominance is imminent.
They’ve had their first blow of the campaign with boom fullback Sammy Bremner ruled out with injury, but Sergis has plenty of talent around her to ensure they get the job done against New Zealand.
No player stands out for Sergis in terms of whom she’s excited to play with, for her it’s about the team as a whole. Besides her obvious skill, that’s the attitude that got her that Jillaroos jersey.
“I think our squad as a whole it’s pretty exciting there’s not really any individual players I think they’re all good, better as a team,” Sergis said.
“I’m lucky with the girls I’ve got around me, we’ve got a great side [with] a lot of experienced players.
“We do have a few debutants, but I think the girls as a whole they’ve made us feel all welcome and we’re really lucky to have girls like them to look up to.”
Sergis and the Jillaroos play the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns this Saturday at 3.15pm at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. The match will be broadcast on both Channel Nine and FOX League.