From Queensland comfort to all grown up
YOU be hard pressed to find someone more Queensland than Zahara Temara.
A Maroons player in both league and union, so comfortable was she in her family home on the Gold Coast, Roosters coach Adam Hartigan and captain Simaima Taufa had to deliver one heck of a pitch when they met with the playmaker to convince her to sign with the Sydney club.
Committing to the Brisbane Broncos would have been much easier and far more comfortable for the 21-year-old.
But after speaking to her father she decided it was time to push herself.
Now Temara shapes as one of the key players in the NRLW grand final who could sink the dreams of the Broncos; it was only a couple of days ago a number of them singled her out as the one they need to shut down.
This is a different person to the one many of them have played alongside for the Maroons and Jillaroos, though.
Temara has matured, and by exposing herself to different players and a new environment, her football has changed too.
"I didn't want to travel anywhere," Temara said. "My whole family lived there (Queensland) and I live with my parents and I love hanging out with my family all the time.
"It was a massive decision for me to come down here and make the big move.
"I'm really glad I made it. I've learnt a lot here.
"I'm doing things for myself now. Acting like a bit of an adult now. On the field, the help that I've had from the coaching staff has been massive for me and my game."
Last week fans finally caught sight of what Temara can do on the field when she moved from lock to halfback.
Guilty of "trying to play like a prop, which I'm not" during the first two rounds, once she was in the number seven for round three she felt "really comfortable and confident" with the ball in hand.
The result was a six-try, 26-0 over St George Illawarra and a place in the final.
Temara's fingerprints were all over the win. She was involved in the build up to three of those tries and two came from her kicks.
Her impact is undeniable. It's why the Queensland Reds fought so hard to have her part of their campaign in this year's inaugural Super W.
Confusion around the NRL's women's elite top 40 contracts kept Temara sidelined for the first few rounds of that competition.
She still trained with the team and was eventually cleared to play for the Reds' final round, a close 32-30 win over Western Force.
The victory put them into the final and Temara, at flyhalf, almost led them to the title, a penalty in double extra time to the NSW Waratahs the only thing that could split the two teams.
"What she brought to our game was a really cool, calm head with lovely hands and good vision," said Reds coach Michael Hayes.
"She's an outstanding athlete. She's very calm and controlled. She reads the game well. She has a lovely short kicking game.
"History shows we scored two tries to one in the final, but still got beaten, which is a shame."
That final will fuel Temara today. It's a loss that's almost six months old but stings like it happened yesterday.
On top of that, the Roosters are still hurting from how they started the NRLW season.
It all combines to make for a very determined halfback.
"That loss hurt," Temara said. "And even the first two weeks for this team hurt and we don't want to feel that way again.
"I'll definitely have that at the back of my mind when I'm out there because I don't want to feel like that again."
First she must stop a red-hot Broncos team, who have gone through the competition undefeated and barely challenged.
When these two teams met in round two things were different though.
Temara was playing lock then and the Roosters still carried a weight of expectation because of their talented lineup.
But much like Temara has learnt a lot about herself during NRLW, so too have the Roosters team.
"We didn't really like the favourites tag," Temara said.
"There was a lot of pressure on us to perform straight away and I'm sort of glad it happened the way it did because we definitely weren't ready with the short prep that we had.
"I think there's pressure on both teams but a bit less on us because we are the underdogs now."