“We have been working on this for two years. I just knew we had the right people in the right positions,” Kelly said.
“I had a really lucky year [after winning a premiership with the Sydney Roosters]which really completes the cake with that one.
“The origin is this game where everyone has to lift. You could play so much footy before, but it’s always going to be very difficult. In fact, I said during the week that we can take a lot of confidence from NRLW playing at this high level. That’s what a lot of girls have done. Having two NSW teams in the Grand Final was a huge confidence boost.
“I love Origin, I love what it’s about.”
Rival full-backs Emma Tonegato and Tamika Upton were brilliant in equal measure. Kirra Dibb, five-eighth for the Sky Blues, scored a scintillating individual try to put an exclamation mark on his return to Origin.
It looks like Dibb will set himself up as part of an Australian call-up at the end of the season for the World Cup, standing out in a star-studded half-time add-on with Queensland playmakers Ali Brigginshaw and Tarryn Aiken.
But that can wait. For now, the story is interstate rivalry. Even without Steph Hancock for the entire second half after failing a head injury assessment, the Maroons stayed in the fight and so nearly robbed him to death.
Ciesiolka looked to have found the winner of the match before Julia Robinson was ruled offside in the kick chase. It was as close as possible.
The streak will stretch to two games next year, meaning one win will be enough for the winners to keep the shield.
Players and coaches want the Shield decided over a three-game series, and there’s no doubt fans share an appetite for more. The 11,321 fans who passed through the turnstiles shattered the previous record of 10,515 set in North Sydney three years ago.
It’s the kind of figure that will give power brokers Rugby League Central some sense of vindication as they rapidly expand NRLW competition.
“It was a great showcase for women’s rugby league. If we could go to a three-game series, I’m sure people will want to watch it. It was a fantastic match. We deserve to have a three-game Origin series so we can really put our game forward,” said Queensland coach Tahnee Norris.
Watch the State of Origin series exclusively live and free on Channel 9 and 9Now.