Rugby League

Blues star won’t carry grudge into Origin after hair pull

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Blues star Isabelle Kelly says she holds "no grudges" going into the women's State of Origin on Friday after a nasty hair pull from Maroons player Amber Hall during the NRLW season.

Kelly's Origin dream for 2020 looked over two games into the NRLW season when she was left screaming in pain after having her hair pulled and falling awkwardly in a Hall tackle in October.

Hall landed on Kelly's ankle, with the Dragons star having to be carried off the field as a result. She was on crutches by the end of the game. Hall was handed a grade-one charge for the incident, pleaded guilty and was suspended for a week.

Kelly is still undergoing rehab while in Blues camp in an effort to recover from the injury, but says she has no ill will towards Hall.

"It looked really nasty … we were surprised it [the injury] wasn't a lot worse than it was," she said.

Kelly said Hall texted her in the days after the game, apologising for the incident and the injury.

"I think it was nice of her to do that," Kelly said. "It was very painful, I can't deny that at all, but it's rugby league at the end of the day and injuries happen.

"I'm not holding any grudges at all, but it's up to me to focus on myself and my injury, and to do everything I can to possibly be out there for the game."

Broncos star Hall was awarded player of the match for the NRLW grand final, where the Broncos claimed their third straight premiership. Kelly said the award was "well deserved" and wished Hall the best for the coming series.

"I'm not holding onto anything now," Kelly said.

Kelly is undergoing rehab alongside Blues skipper Kezie Apps, who suffered a knee injury during the same NRLW match against the Broncos. Apps has given herself a 90 per cent chance of playing on Friday alongside Kelly.

"I am lucky I might have the chance to put on the Origin jersey again," Kelly said.

Blues coach Andy Patmore decided to select both players despite their injuries – a risky move given coaches are unable to bring players into camp at the last minute due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"It's nice to know that he has a bit of faith in me and Kez, and he trusts that we could get ourselves right for the game," Kelly said. "It just goes to show what a great coach he is."

Patmore also made the controversial call to drop halves pair Kirra Dibb and Maddie Studdon and replace them with Corban McGregor and Melanie Howard.

With Kelly and Studdon best friends and Dragons teammates, the decision was a tough one to process, but shows the high calibre of players coming through women's rugby league this year.

"That's not easy for her, but I know that she will bounce back from this," Kelly said. "It's a tough thing for coaches. I wouldn't want to do it and I don't know how they do it. But rugby league changes every week."

The women's State of Origin will be played at Sunshine Coast Stadium on November 13.

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