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Newy duo Johnston, Clydsdale call on Sky Blues fans to turn up the heat

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A couple of hometown heroes are confident local fans will turn McDonald Jones Stadium into an ominous arena for their rivals on Thursday night.

Newcastle Knights’ NRLW stars Caitlan Johnston and Yasmin Clydsdale, along with Olivia Higgins, have the unique opportunity to represent their club supporters, as well as the state, when the NSW Sky Blues tackle the Queensland Maroons in their own “backyard” this week.

The second Women’s State of Origin fixture – to be played on 6 June – sold out at the weekend, but neither prop Johnston nor second-rower Clydsdale were surprised by that outcome.

“We’re used to the Hunter faithful turning up in droves to support us [the Knights],” the latter said.

“So, the fact NSW is playing Queensland in Newcastle for the first time was another drawcard.”

“I think there’s definitely excitement around the squad,” Johnston added.

“But, more so for us Novocastrian girls.

“We know the fans always turn up for a game of footy.

“It’s going to be amazing.

“Being at home and having McDonald Jones Stadium packed, with thousands of NSW supporters in attendance, I can only imagine what the atmosphere will be like.

“Playing at Suncorp Stadium, it was quite intimidating.

“Hopefully, the Maroons will experience that here in Newcastle… and it’ll work in our favour.”

Yasmin Clydsdale picked up the Player of the Match award in game one.

The Sky Blues claimed the honours in the series opener 22-12, with Johnston scoring a try and Clydsdale earning Player of the Match honours.

“Everyone did their job, which was a major factor,” the former said.

“However, it felt good to score it in front of a packed crowd of Queenslanders.

“To be honest, I loved every moment of it.

“But, this week will be different.

“I’m from Belmont and Yasmin’s a Newy girl, too, so it probably means a bit more for us (this match), as well as Liv.

“Plus, knowing we’ve set another milestone for women’s rugby league is pretty special, too.

“It’s been a long time coming for us females in the game, so I’m excited.”

“Hearing that we broke records on television, as well, highlights the current interest,” Clydsdale said.

“Just having the women’s match free-to-air on Channel 9 was super special.

“I think it’s only going to get bigger from here.

“We’re just trying to live in the moment and enjoy it.”

While the NSW line-up remains unchanged, Queensland has reinstated Ali Brigginshaw back into the halves.

However, that doesn’t faze Clydsdale.

“Our coach Kylie Hilder is just focused on leading us into this camp,” she said.

“We’re not actually worrying about what the Maroons are doing, just what we can do heading into game two.

“We’ll continue to back each other and concentrate on our roles.

“If we do that, it’ll hold us in good stead.”

Women’s State of Origin

NSW Sky Blues v Queensland Maroons

(McDonald Jones Stadium)

7.45pm: Thursday 6 June

  • NSW Sky Blues: Emma Tonegato, Jaime Chapman, Jessica Sergis, Isabelle Kelly, Tiana Penitani, Corban Baxter, Rachael Pearson, Millie Elliott, Olivia Higgins, Caitlan Johnston, Kezie Apps, Yasmin Clydsdale, Keeley Davis; Taliah Fuimaono, Olivia Kernick, Grace Kemp, Sarah Togatuki; reserves: Jakiya Whitfeld, Kirra Dibb, Ellie Johnston
  • Queensland Maroons: Tamika Upton, Julia Robinson, Shenae Ciesiolka, Lauren Brown, Evania Pelite, Tarryn Aiken, Ali Brigginshaw, Shannon Mato, Destiny Brill, Jessika Elliston, Tazmin Rapana, Romy Teitzel, Sienna Lofipo; Emma Manzelmann, Makenzie Weale, Sophie Holyman, Emmanita Paki; reserves: Zahara Temara, Keilee Joseph, Skyla Adams

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