She plays her club football in Queensland, her partner is a Queensland Origin star, but Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues forward Shaylee Bent says she bleeds blue.
“I am NSW to the core – blue all the way,” she told nswrl.com.au
“I don’t really feel a pull between the two states as I’ve grown up in NSW and only recently made the move to Queensland. I have no family up there, just my partner.”
Bent’s partner is Gold Coast Titans NRL player and former Maroons forward David Fifita.
“When we were watching the first Origin (men’s) game there was a little argy-bargy between us,” she said of the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues falling just short to Queensland.
“Unfortunately, we got the loss so I told him just to wait until round two!”
The second game in the Ampol State of Origin series is at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Sunday 26 June – two days after Bent and the Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues play their stand-alone Origin game at Canberra’s GIO Stadium.
It hasn’t been the smoothest of rides for the 21-year-old as she tried to represent her state.
Bent was 18th player in the Sky Blues 2019 team, made her NSW debut in 2020 in the back row, but missed out in 2021, only to now resurface in the 2022 squad.
“I was disappointed (2021) but I believe it was because I was playing in the centres up in the Queensland Cup (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), not in the back-row,” she said.
“So, when I had a chat with (Sky Blues coach) Kylie Hilder she told me she hadn’t seen enough of me at second row to put me in there.
“I was a bit upset but I spoke about it with my partner and we talked about it making me more eager to show what I could do when the NRLW season was played earlier this year.”
Bent also believes a small dip in weight also helped.
“In the 2020 NRLW season I was playing at around 80 kilos and now I’m just under 77,” she said.
“So, I feel a bit quicker and more mobile and I find that’s really working in my favour with the type of football I want to play.
“Now I’m back in the Sky Blues and I couldn’t be happier.”
Bent was with the Parramatta Eels in 2017 when the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup began, providing the link for female players from the juniors to senior ranks.
She then went to the Wests Tigers and played with her younger sister Janaya, who played NSW Under 18s in 2019.
But the move to Queensland to be with Fifita had Bent join Wynnum-Manly, where a number of her Koori friends play.
She has played in four Indigenous All Stars teams (2019-2022) making her debut at 18-years-old.
“It’s where I first got noticed; it’s where my journey started,” Bent said.
“It also means a great deal to me because of my heritage.”