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'She taught me all I needed to know about rugby league'

JILLAROO JUBILATION: Ali Brigginshaw (left) celebrates with halves partner Caitlan Moran after Moran's last-second field goal confirmed the Aussies' 23-16 win over the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
JILLAROO JUBILATION: Ali Brigginshaw (left) celebrates with halves partner Caitlan Moran after Moran's last-second field goal confirmed the Aussies' 23-16 win over the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday. DARREN ENGLAND

ALI Brigginshaw is now a two-time Women's Rugby League World Cup champion.

On current form she is arguably the best player in the world - almost certainly at her position - and her efforts in the green and gold over the past month have drawn praise from all corners of the rugby league world.

But the girl out of Raceview State School has never forgotten those who helped her get to the top.

"It started with Peta Green, my first ever coach for rugby league," Brigginshaw recalled of the Raceview State School physical education teacher who passed away in 2009.

"She kept me in the game, she gave me the belief that I could do it and was always there by my side.

"She taught me all I needed to know about rugby league.

"It was important to have a lady's influence, to have someone there when it was so lonely being the only girl playing with boys."

Green was a vocal advocate for Brigginshaw's inclusion in the Met West under-12 schoolboys team.

Before there were dedicated schoolgirls sides, Brigginshaw became the first-ever girl to represent Met West in rugby league.

It was there she met Calvin Hegvold.

"Calvin coached me at Met West around the same time as Peta," Brigginshaw said.

"He's just such an awesome coach, he brought me up in the game and I learnt a great deal from him.

"Now he's the coach for Met West U15s and I'm his assistant coach.

"He's helped so many young girls get better at the game, and he's teaching me a great deal about coaching as well."

Green and Hegvold helped mould Brigginshaw the player and teammate, but there was a group of equally-important people whose influence extended beyond the touchline.

And they were in the Suncorp Stadium stands on Saturday.

"My family, everyone who knows me knows my family are my biggest supporters," Brigginshaw said.

"It was awesome, to hold the trophy and look up and see them screaming and cheering, to see how proud they were.

"They follow me everywhere, they'll travel wherever I play.

"It made everything that bit more special to have them there."

Following a player of the match performance which included 83 run metres, 27 tackles and two try assists, Brigginshaw said the immediate emotion was not what one might expect.

"Exhaustion," she said.

"I'd never seen so much blood from ears, mouths, eyebrows; I was happy and also upset, but not in a bad way.

"It's just been a huge month, but also such a whirlwind.

"To see the look on everyone's faces - that we had actually done it - that was best feeling."

Brigginshaw admitted the Kiwi Ferns proved more physical than the Aussies expected early in the piece, but there was always confidence among the players they would finish the 80 minutes on top.

"New Zealand came out stronger than we thought they would, and we made a lot of errors early," Brigginshaw said.

"We probably couldn't have played worse if we tried, but we kept turning up in defence when it counted.

"I think the Jillaroos culture played a big part in helping us win. (Coach) Brad Donald told us just to soak it up. We're world champions now and no one can take that away from us."

Topics:  ali brigginshaw australian jillaroos brothers ipswich five-eighth ipswich brothers rugby league club ipswich rugby league kiwi ferns player of the match rugby league world cup 2017 world cup final


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