She’s won four NRLW premierships, two Karyn Murphy Medals and was crowned Dally M player of the year last week, and Tamika Upton is set to tick off her final bucket list item by earning a Jillaroos debut later this month.
The Newcastle fullback has been dubbed the best player in the world after she took control of Sunday’s NRLW grand final with two late tries to seal a second premiership in a row against a Titans team that dominated most of the contest.
It capped a dream week for the four-time premiership winner who claimed her first Dally M award on Wednesday night after another brilliant season with the Knights and the Maroons.
Incredibly, she’s never played for Australia, with a calf injury ruling her out of last year’s World Cup, but that should end when the squads are announced for the Pacific Championships that start with the Jillaroos hosting New Zealand on October 14.
Sam Bremner was the fullback for last year’s crushing 50-point win over the Kiwi Ferns in the World Cup final, but she’s since retired, with Teagan Berry and Evania Pelite the main competition for the No.1 jersey.
“It’s a long-term goal,” Upton said when asked about representing her country.
“I’ve always said I go day-by-day. I’ll party and celebrate (the NRLW premiership win) and then go from there.
“I’m fit and healthy. That was probably the biggest thing for me this season. I was able to get through a whole season.
“I had a lot of help, a lot of physios, a lot of strength and conditioning coaches along the way.”
Upton’s form has her in the conversation now as one of the greatest female players of all time, and Knights halfback Jesse Southwell says Upton’s “without a doubt” the best in the world right now.
“I can’t see anyone as good as her, I genuinely can’t, and I’m a fan of the game,” she said.
“I cannot see another person even coming close to her at the moment.”
Southwell, 18, is also in the mix to earn a Jillaroos debut after her second premiership in 12 months, but the teen sensation doesn’t think she’ll be picked.
The halfback hasn’t spoken with Jillaroos coach Brad Donald about a possible debut, with Ali Brigginshaw and Tarryn Aiken likely to retain their spots in the halves for the upcoming Tests.
“I doubt I’ll see my name in there,” Southwell conceded after an emotional premiership victory alongside her sister.
“I think there are a lot of good halfbacks, so I doubt I’ll be there.
“It’s up to Brad and the selection committee, but it isn’t a driving force for me at the moment.
“I just love playing alongside my Newcastle girls at the moment and there are so many underrated girls in our side that deserve a shot not only for the Jillaroos but for Origin and things like that.
“Whatever happens, happens, so all the best to the Jillaroos and whoever gets picked.”