The opening game of the 2023 Ampol Women’s State of Origin means a lot to Jaime Chapman as her Rugby League journey now seems complete – at the ripe old age of 21.
The Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues winger has longed for this jersey to add to her representative set.
She captained the Harvey Norman Under 19s Origin side, has played for the Indigenous All Stars, went to the World Cup with the Jillaroos last year, and now gets to play in the Open Women’s Origin team for the first time.
“Obviously playing for your country is amazing but Origin also has its own greatness. It is mate against mate and now I get to experience that,” she said, referring to playing a host of Queensland friends including her Tweed Heads Seagulls teammate Jess Elliston.
Chapman came through the NSWRL pathways of playing Tarsha Gale Cup (U19s) and then the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership – both with the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.
She is now in the QRL’s BMD Premiership open women’s competition after moving to the Gold Coast two years ago.
“I moved up to Queensland as my dad had moved up and there and we’re very close.
“To better my mental health I wanted to be up there with him rather than living on my own in Sydney. So I followed him up there and am much happier.”
Family connections are strong as Chapman’s 10-year-old sister Lucy will play in a half-time school girls match at CommBank Stadium on Thursday night.
“Lucy is playing for Kurnell Public School – the school I went to when I was a kid,” Chapman said.
“It’s amazing to see a small school like that get to play in such a big stadium like CommBank.
“I’m proud of her and I hope she keeps on staying involved with footy and follows in my boots one day. I’ll be really excited to see her after my game.”
Chapman is one of six NSW Sky Blues who started in the Tarsha Gale Cup. The others are Keeley Davis, Quincy Dodd, Shaylee Bent, Teagan Berry and Jesse Southwell.
“The pathways are definitely working. When I played in the Under-19s Origin that was one of the biggest games of my life,” Chapman said.
“But I really want to experience the rivalry and atmosphere of the women’s game. It will be harder, tougher and faster.”
Adapting to the senior women’s game, Chapman is five kilos heavier and two centimetres taller than she was in 2021.
“I definitely had to build muscle. Look at photos of me a couple of years ago and I’m a totally different person.
“I’ve now filled into my body and I’ve practised hard to make my skills better.”
Scoring four tries for Australia in three World Cup games (France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea) proved that on the international stage – now for the interstate arena.