Family means everything to True Blues

Margie McDonald

Family names on the back of a jersey mean a lot to players and Westpac NSW Sky Blues prop Caitlan Johnston-Green is top of the list, when it comes to wanting to recognise her family.

For Game One of the 2024 Ampol State of Origin series the 23 year-old had an additional name ‘Green’ embroided across her shoulders.

For Game Two at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday night the hyphenated surname will resonate with her again since it’s her hometown crowd.

“It’s just my mother’s last name,” Johnston-Green said after the Sky Blues completed a gym session as they build to this week’s game.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to have her last name on a rep jersey so it was important for me to have that – Johnston-Green represents both my parents.

“They’ve been a massive support. I don’t know if I’d be here today if it wasn’t for my family and my parents.

“They’ve sacrificed a lot with six kids but they’ve been there for each of us.”

Johnston-Green (above left) missed the entire 2023 Origin series with a knee injury, but has relished the chance to return to the interstate arena.

“I’m excited to be back in the Blues jersey. Every time I wear it, I do that with great pride.”

Johnston-Green certainly created an impact in Game One with a try, a try assist for Emma Tonegato, five tackle busts, and 10 hit-ups for 123 metres.

She is joined by two other Newcastle Knights teammates before a sell-out crowd.

“It’s something special to be a part of this but also a part of the first three-game series as well,” said second rower Yasmin Clydsdale (above centre).

“I had an interview in front of the stadium last year when I told everyone to get in and get their tickets early because I said I believed it would sell out.

“It’s kind of weird that it has come to fruition.

“But the people of Newcastle deserve this – to have a sold-out Origin game at home.”

Knights hooker Olivia Higgins made her Origin debut three weeks ago in Brisbane in front of more than 25,000 fans but now gets to run out before more than 30,000 on Thursday.

“I was so stoked to hear it had sold out but I also wasn’t surprised. I knew of so many people who got tickets early.

“Obviously I’ve played in grand finals before but I haven’t played in many games where it’s been completely sold out.

“I just hope I can handle my nerves. I think I’ll be Okay so I’ll just concentrate on looking forward to playing.”