NSW's Tonegato sets sights on Origin glory

·2-min read

Having conquered the world's best in one code, Emma Tonegato's pursuit of greatness in another will continue on Friday night when she lines up for NSW in Women's State of Origin.

Already an Olympic rugby sevens gold medallist, the gun St George Illawarra fullback had a meteoric rise in her first NRLW season, leading her side to a grand final and winning the Dally M Medal.

It's a journey that could now see her help NSW reclaim the Origin shield from Queensland in Canberra before possible Rugby League World Cup glory in England in November.

Tonegato, who played for her country at the 2013 World Cup before shifting to rugby sevens, said seeing the women's game reach new heights with the NRLW inspired her to return to rugby league.

"I was always a little bit jealous and a little bit like 'I want to prove myself, I want to have a go and see how I fare against the best of the best'," she told AAP.

"When I left there was no NRLW or anything like that at all, that was one of the reasons I left and since it started I always watched it come together.

"I'm lucky enough it all fit together, it's been absolutely incredible watching the growth of the game, and how much there still is to go is scary as well."

Tonegato is all-in on rugby league now, having recently penned a new deal with the Dragons.

It's welcome news for Dragons fans after her sensational debut season saw her post 1174m, 358m post-contact metres, six line breaks and 27 tackle breaks - all statistics ranking in the league's top-five players.

"It was a bit of a whirlwind, it was such an awesome season," Tonegato said.

"I was ready for change after Sevens and the Dragons popped up - hometown girl and all those kinds of things.

"It just fit really nice, it was a really fun season ... made some awesome friends and just loved every minute of it, and I'm excited to do it all over again."

But first on Tonegato's agenda is helping NSW win the Origin shield for the first time since 2019.

"All the girls have spoken about how it's just the hardest game you'll ever play and it is really the best of the best," she said.

"It's always cool to play for your state and it's such an honour to be selected but at the end of the day, I just have to do my preparation and make sure I look after myself.

"Focus on the little things and make sure I'm in a good place with a smile on my face."

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