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The Roar


Jillaroos squad: Upton rewarded for stellar form with debut as Donald sticks solid with World Cup stars for Kiwi Ferns clashes

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3rd October, 2023

Jillaroos coach Brad Donald says he’s prepared to throw Tamika Upton in at the deep end and hand the all-conquering Newcastle fullback her first Test start in the No.1 jersey.

Upton last week claimed the Dally M and Karyn Murphy medals en route to a second-straight title with the Knights.

The 26-year-old is one of three Newcastle players named in Donald’s squad for the Tests against the Kiwi Ferns in Townsville on October 14 and Melbourne on October 28.

“She has been the form fullback and she’ll be wearing the No.1,” Donald said in Sydney on Tuesday.

Tamika Upton(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“There’s a couple of fullbacks in there but she has had an outstanding year. She’s a special player.”

North Queensland’s Emma Manzelmann and Gold Coast’s Jess Elliston are the other two uncapped players in the squad, which will be captained by Ali Brigginshaw and Kezie Apps.

Brigginshaw, 33, might be reaching the twilight of her career but Donald insists the champion halfback still has plenty more to give.


“It was probably her best season in the NRLW, she was named Dally M halfback of the year,” the coach said. 

“She’s been a great captain for the team for a long while and she has matured into a really good captain.

“She’s going to help us through the transition over the next couple of years.

“This is the start of a four-year cycle through to the next World Cup. Age is just a number but she’s playing like a 25-year-old.”

Jillaroos squad 

Tarryn Aiken                     Roosters
Kezie Apps                        Tigers
Shaylee Bent                    Titans
Ali Brigginshaw                Broncos
Lauren Brown                   Titans
Jaime Chapman              Titans
Kennedy Cherrington      Eels
Yasmin Clydsdale            Knights
Keeley Davis                     Roosters
Jess Elliston*                   Titans
Caitlan Johnston             Knights
Isabelle Kelly                    Roosters
Olivia Kernick                   Roosters
Emma Manzelmann*      Cowboys
Shannon Mato                 Titans
Evania Pelite                     Titans
Julia Robinson                 Broncos
Jessica Sergis                  Roosters
Simaima Taufa                Raiders
Emma Tonegato              Sharks
Tamika Upton*                 Knights