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Footy superstar Tamika Upton reveals how breaking her back was key to her award-winning run of form


Queensland fullback Tamika Upton has overtaken herself in 2023, the year she declared herself the best player in the women’s game.

But the Newcastle star insists she is just warming up – and that comes after learning to run again in 2020 after breaking her back.

Ahead of Game I of the historic three-match Women’s State of Origin series at Lang Park on Thursday night, the 27-year-old said there was still plenty of improvement to be made.

Last year, Upton won the NRLW’s Dally M Medal and was man of the match in the grand final for the premiership-winning Knights, scoring two tries against the Gold Coast Titans.

She was also a member of the Maroons squad that won the State of Origin series and made her Australian debut.

NRLW superstar Tamika Upton (pictured right) has revealed how she reset after breaking her back and then took her game to another level.

In 2023, Upton won the NRLW's Dally M Medal and was man of the match in the grand final for the Newcastle Knights, scoring two tries against the Gold Coast Titans.

In 2023, Upton won the NRLW’s Dally M Medal and was man of the match in the grand final for the Newcastle Knights, scoring two tries against the Gold Coast Titans.

It’s hard to imagine such an outstanding season coming to an end, but Upton refuses to rest on her laurels.

“I have tons of areas to improve. I want to improve as a leader and a communicator and a bunch of things on the field,” she said.

«I’m pretty in tune with the team in Newcastle but in (Queensland) camps like this I can take it to another level.»

“It’s all about learning more about each player and each game plan.

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«The fullback locks down every line of defense and that’s what I focus on every game and helping the girls at the back.»

Upton’s smooth running of the ball, game sense and silky skills are her hallmarks.

When she takes the ball to the line, she seems to slip past defenders with ease, but there was nothing easy about her return to play for Brisbane after a lengthy rehabilitation process four years ago.

«I had five or six months off with a spinal fracture in my back and had to come back and learn how to run again,» she said.

Tamika Upton (left) won four NRLW titles - two with Brisbane and another two with the Knights (pictured, last year with teammate Hannah Southwell)

Tamika Upton (left) won four NRLW titles – two with Brisbane and another two with the Knights (pictured, last year with teammate Hannah Southwell)

“My technique wasn’t the best. From that experience I learned preparation and recovery – and so much about myself that I still use today.”

Upton, who won two NRLW titles with the Knights and two with the Broncos, has a genuine love for the game and her teammates.

«I look back on last year’s success, not from an individual perspective, but with the team – at Newcastle in Queensland and then when I made my debut for the Jillaroos,» she said.

“It’s been a whirlwind but all the hard work that was put in at the start of the season has paid off.

“I’m basically at that point again and I’m ready to go again.

«We’ve had a good preparation here in Queensland so far and we’ll continue to do so through the week.»

“We are very excited to run out to Suncorp for the first time in a women’s Origin game.

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