Ipswich's own to lead Queensland in NSW assault
RUGBY LEAGUE: Ipswich's Ali Brigginshaw will fulfil a lifelong ambition when she captains the Maroons in Friday night's State of Origin clash.
Brigginshaw's father, Larry, was also a decorated halfback who played for Queensland and she always wanted to pull on the famous jersey just as he did.
Having reached that goal in previous seasons and ascended to captain her nation, the only honour left for her to achieve was leading her state.
With Maroons coach Jason Hetherington unveiling Brigginshaw as the replacement for former skipper Karina Brown, that is now a reality as well.
Having captained the Broncos and Jillaroos but not the state she loves, the passionate Queenslander can not wait to spearhead the invasion of North Sydney Oval.
"It's a dream come true," she said.
"It is something that I've always wished for (to captain Qld)."
As halfback Brigginshaw knows she has a vital role to play guiding the team and executing the game plan.
With the weather expected to be damp, the Maroons will look to play through the middle and take advantage of their strength up front.
New South Wales possess blinding speed across the park and Brigginshaw plans to work their pack over in the wet.
Much will hinge on the star playmaker's ability to organise and link with her forwards, while her kicking game will be crucial.
"Completing sets is going to be massive," she said.
"I'll also need to keep everyone calm and ensure it doesn't get too frantic out there."
In camp at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, the Maroons have enjoyed a perfect preparation.
Brigginshaw said she appreciated the "old school" approach of former Origin hooker Hetherington who had armed the Queenslanders with a no-nonsense strategy.
With the state's greatest ever tackler, Trevor 'the Axe' Gillmeister, also on hand offering defensive pointers and ex-Maroons Joanne Barrett, Karen Murphy and Nat Dwyer sharing their experience, the Maroons are primed.
Brigginshaw said the four debutants have settled into the group well and everyone is relaxed, injury-free and ready to head to Sydney today ahead of their date with the Blues.
"We're really excited," she said.
"Everyone wants to get it done. It has been a hard 12 months without that trophy and we need to win it back."
Queensland hooker Brittany Breayley is also set to do Ipswich proud.
Breayley will line up opposite 43-year-old Taree product Kylie Hilder, who returns from retirement to the New South Wales set-up.
Brigginshaw expects the experienced Hilder to offer the Blues plenty of creativity from dummy half but she backs Breayley to outplay the veteran.
"She won't do better than Brit," Brigginshaw said. "I think we have got the edge in that position."
After arriving in Sydney, the Maroons will have a chance to familiarise themselves with North Sydney Oval when Brigginshaw leads the captain's run.
Friday's match can be viewed live on channel 9 from 7.30pm.