The St George Illawarra Dragons connection is a comforting one for Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues hooker Keeley Davis.
She is the only survivor from the 2021 NSW Origin side left in the 2022 team’s attacking spine.
Davis wore the No.9 jersey in the loss to Queensland a year ago but her ‘spine’ teammates No.7 Maddie Studdon (not selected), No.6 Corban Baxter (injury), and No.1 Botille Vette-Welsh (knee) are absent.
But in comes her NRLW Dragons teammates Emma Tonegato at fullback and Rachael Pearson at halfback.
The No.6 five-eighth jersey will be worn by former Jillaroo Kirra Dibb.
“Especially having that connection in the spine – the more you can keep those players together in a team the better you’ll play,” Davis told nswrl.com.au.
“It’s unreal. I love playing with Em and alongside ‘Rat’ (Pearson) as well.
“We’ve played a lot more footy together this year at the NRLW standard through the Dragons with more rounds and the postponed season.
“So, I feel really confident in where they are going to be and what kind of job they will do.
“I also know where they like to receive the ball. We have great communication already and having Kirra is a great addition to all of that.”
Along with the three Dragons spine members are forwards Kezie Apps, Shaylee Bent and utility Quincy Dodd.
Add in the six Sydney Roosters players – Yasmin Clydsdale, Jess Sergis, Isabelle Kelly, Sarah Togatuki, Olivia Kernick and Hannah Southwell – and you have 12 players from April’s NRLW Grand Final in the NSW Sky Blues team.
“That can only help us in the long run,” Davis, 21, said.
And she admits NSW players are after any perceived advantage they can get to try to erase the memories of the 8-6 defeat in 2021.
“It depends on the loss but this one really got to us,” she said.
“It was such a close game – only two points – and then we couldn’t get together and really debrief and review because of the COVID lockdown.
“It was tough and even now talking about it there’s a lot of emotion behind it.
“It was pretty hard to get over – and definitely has motivated us for this game. And that’s a good thing.”
Not that Davis needs much pushing. She already has immense pride in her Sky Blues jersey.
“It’s a deeper, very proud kind of feeling,” she said.
“I know there are a lot of good, young girls playing at the moment so it’s a real personal achievement for me to keep this jersey another year.
“And I know there’s heaps of girls looking up to this team and wanting to be in this spot – be a part of this team.
“It is a very special thing and I don’t take it for granted for a second.
“Every time I’m in this jersey I want to go as hard as I can and keep improving my game.”