Harvey Norman Jillaroos captain Ali Brigginshaw has a not-so-secret weapon she can't wait to unleash on the Kiwi Ferns on Saturday.
Dally M Medal winner Tamika Upton makes her Test debut in Townsville on Saturday, after a calf injury ruled her out of last year’s World Cup.
Upton’s former Broncos teammate Brigginshaw said her side has been in awe of their new recruit in preparations for the Pacific Championships opener and has no doubt she'll be a massive hit.
“It’s bringing back some memories playing alongside Meeks (Tamika),” Brigginshaw said during Friday’s captains' run.
“Just at training, the things she's been able to do, we just kind of watch and go wow, like how does that happen?
“She's a talented player and she's been in form and the best thing is she's injury free.
“We've seen the great NRLW campaign she's had so we’re all excited to see her pull on the green and gold and I know she'll do a great job for Australia.”
Tamika Upton's 2023 Dally M reel
While Upton is joined by Titans prop Jessika Elliston as the only new faces in the Jillaroos side, the Kiwi Ferns have unveiled a new-look squad in hope to avenge the heavy defeat to their international rivals in last year's final at Old Trafford.
With Sam Bremner (retired) and Evania Pelite (knee) the only two players missing from the squad, the Jillaroos will head into the World Cup rematch full of confidence, however Brigginshaw is refusing to be complacent.
“As a group we're being humble and you never want to be complacent when you pull on this jersey, the Kiwi side are always strong and they always show up,” Brigginshaw said.
"You saw that in the round game at the World Cup and then obviously the final turned out a little bit differently, but they're all fit and firing.
"They've got a very fresh team and with Tyla Nathan-Wong, Ash Quinlan, they've got some superstars that are about to unleash on the international stage.
“We’re ready for the challenge and I'm fully confident in what we've been doing at the Jillaroos that it will be a great game.”
Meanwhile, coach Brad Donald knows his side will head into the inaugural Championships as the hunted but is hoping the injection of their new debutants will help retain their No. 1 ranking.
What you need to know out of the Week 1 Pacific Championships teams
“We’ve probably done ourselves no favours with the flawless effort and execution of the last match, so it'll make the Ferns much hungrier to turn that around,” Donald said in Townsville on Friday.
"They've picked a really good, strong squad, they’re young and enthusiastic and we're expecting a really tough game tomorrow night.
“Both Jess and Tamika probably would have made their debut if injury hadn't prevented them over the last couple of years so it's great for them to be rewarded and be able to pull that jersey on tomorrow night.
“And it's always good to have a couple of rookies so everybody else can then step up and make sure their night's memorable.”
Match: Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns
Week 1 -
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville