‘Poking the bear’: Historic moment for Maroons women
Queensland rugby league great Tahnee Norris will become the first female to coach the Maroons women's side under the official State of Origin banner after staving off a host of quality talent for the role.
The most capped female rugby league player in Australia will take over the reins from Jason Hetherington, who has coached the side since the women's State of Origin concept was introduced in 2018 and who proved instrumental in their historic victory on the Sunshine Coast last year.
Kayo is your ticket to the best sport streaming Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Norris is a stalwart of Queensland rugby league - playing in 32 Tests for Australia and notching up five of the past six state premiership titles as head coach of the Burleigh Bears women's side.
The former Queensland representative lock forward will become the first female coach in the women's State of Origin era and the first woman since Beth Harlow was in charge in 2012.
Following the Maroons 24 to 18 win last year, Norris said she wasn't afraid to "poke the bear" to continue Queensland's recent success.
"For me, it's about getting the best out of the players and seeing what potential they've got," Norris said. "I'm trying to poke the bear, basically.
"Especially for a one-off game like this, it's crucial to get the best out of them.
"That's something I've tried to do at Burleigh and it's just so important to get it right for a one-off Origin game.
"I'm just looking forward to being around the girls and build on their success from last year."
The revamped Origin coaching role will also see Norris work more closely with Queensland's premier women's competition - the BHP Premiership - to unearth the next era of Maroons female talent.
She said she wasn't planning on making many changes to the current Queensland women's squad but was keeping her eye out for young talent from the state's regions.
"The bulk of the Maroons squad, I can't see very many changes happening there because they were so successful," she said.
"We didn't get to see a lot of the North Queensland girls last year though so I'm looking forward to seeing what they produce in the BHP Premiership.
"I'm hoping some of those country girls can come through.
"There's plenty to choose from which is a really good sign here in Queensland."
Aside from her rugby league coaching, Norris also manages the Australian Olympic kayaking team, bound for Tokyo later this year, in a full-time role.
Norris' appointment as head coach follows New South Wales' move to hand rugby league veteran Kylie Hilder the reins of the Blues squad for the Origin clash on June 25.
Originally published as 'Poking the bear': Historic moment for Maroons women