Queens­land’s Chook trav­el­ling very nicely

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RUGBY LEAGUE - FIONA BOLLEN

YOU would be hard pressed to find some­one more Queens­land than Za­hara Te­mara.

A Ma­roons player in league and union, so com­fort­able was she in her fam­ily home on the Gold Coast, Roost­ers coach Adam Har­ti­gan and cap­tain Si­maima Ta­ufa, 21, had to de­liver one heck of a pitch when they were try­ing to sign her.

Com­mit­ting to Bris­bane Bron­cos would have been eas­ier and far more com­fort­able. 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.

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 en­v­i­ron- ment, her foot­ball has changed, too.

“I didn’t want to travel any­where,” she 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.’’

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 No.7 for round three, she felt “re­ally com­fort­able and con­fi­dent” with the ball.

The re­sult was a six-try, 26-0 win 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 tries and two came from her kicks. Her im­pact was un­de­ni­able. It’s why 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.

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 win put them into the fi­nal and Te­mara, at fiveeighth, al­most led them to the ti­tle, a penalty in dou­ble ex­tra time to the NSW Waratahs the only thing that split the teams.

“What she brought to our game was a re­ally cool, calm head with lovely hands and good vi­sion,” Reds coach Michael Hayes said.

“She’s an out­stand­ing ath­lete. 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 red­hot Bron­cos team that have gone through the com­pe­ti­tion un­de­feated and barely chal­lenged.

“I think there’s pres­sure on both teams but a bit less on us be­cause we are the un­der­dogs now,” she said.

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