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NSW Blues representative Keeley Davis.

When Keeley Davis fell off her chair three days out from making her State of Origin debut last year, she immediately knew something was wrong when she couldn't get up.

It was a sign that the 20-year-old body was failing her, and had been doing so for more than a year.

Sitting in the team room at Twin Waters resort on the Sunshine Coast last year, Davis was due to be taken to the hospital for an injection in her back after six months of ongoing back and joint pain.

Davis had multiple scans and MRI tests throughout the season after experiencing chronic back pain but was cleared to keep playing despite her body feeling like it was struggling to recover after games.  

It wasn't until the chair incident, which spiked the pain significantly and ruled her out of Origin, that Davis spent the off-season undergoing further tests for answers.

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In January, she finally got an official diagnosis. Davis had a type of inflammatory arthritis.

"Ankylosing spondylitis," she tells

"The type of disease people get when they're 18 or 19 so I look back now and might've had some symptoms at school.

"It affects my spine and pelvis mainly along with my joints and my ankles.

"We've got no idea how it's come about. We were treating it like a back injury for about six months because it would come and go.

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"When I fell off the chair I couldn't stand up and do anything. I couldn't pick a ball up off the ground and I didn't sleep.

"Nothing on the scans was coming up so I kept playing but, in hindsight, I was actually doing all the wrong things. I'm just very lucky I got on top of it."

Thankfully, Davis's health battle is considered treatable with the Jillaroos representative on regular medication and required to have an ASADA-approved injection in her body every fortnight.

Under the medication, she'll be able to continue to play at the top level and recover like normal.  

"It took me a while to get used to it, I started off on some weaker medication to see how I reacted to that," she said.

"I was having a lot of fatigue and feeling worn down but have been on stronger medication since and have been a thousand times better. It's been unreal."

Davis is one of two debutantes for NSW on Friday night and will be crucial to the hopes of the side reclaiming the shield in enemy territory.

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She faces a running battle with rising Maroons young gun Destiny Brill at hooker.

"I can't wait for the game, it feels like a big false start last year and watching the girls not be able to get the result it hurt, so we're definitely looking to win this time around," Davis said.


Women’s Origin tickets are on sale via NRL Tickets. Supporters can watch the historic match from just $5 for juniors, $15 for adults and $35 for families.

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