STINGRAYS of Shellharbour star Rhiannon Tungai is preparing for the toughest match of her life - though not by much.
The youngest of seven siblings, the NSW under 18s rep learned her toughest lessons at the park, plenty of them from older sister Shakiah.
It will make for a special moment when they both don the blue jumper for next week's women's Origin double-header, with St George Illawarra star Shakiah making her NSW debut.
Rhiannon will play in the under 18s curtain-raiser where she's sure to draw on some of the tricks she learned in those fierce backyard battles.
"It all started off with backyard footy with the brothers and sisters," she said.
"I'm the baby out of seven so that toughens you up. They'd rough me up a bit but I definitely gave it back to them.
"When I'm on the field I just feel like I'm playing against the brothers and sisters again. To play in my age group and have my big sister play in the women's is definitely a big thing for our family.
"Shak's paved a path for, not just me but my other sisters and family. I look up to her as my inspiration and it's definitely one of my main goals to play with her in a Blue jersey one day."
The feeling's mutual, with Shakiah set to take her her own first step towards that goal after a breakout NRLW campaign with the Dragons last season.
"When [Rhiannon] finally go the call last week it was pretty exciting, not only for her but for our whole family," Shakiah said.
"We played a lot of footy growing up with our siblings over in the park. There was a whole team there so we split them up and played against each other in the backyard.
"It was tough but I think she was the toughest of us all so you've got to give credit where it's due. She can definitely take a hit and she tackles like a machine.
"To be able to be a role model for her and give her some inspiration to be at the top level of footy is a huge honour.
"Hopefully when she's old enough and if she's still passionate about her footy, I'd love to play alongside her [for NSW]."
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It's just one path the talented sporting pair could have taken. In fact there were many who once thought Shakiah would be playing for the Matildas at the current FIFA Women's World Cup after starring as junior in the round-ball game.
However, it was a world cup of a different kind - the 2017 RLWC - that steered the Shellharbour product back toward her true sporting love.
"To be honest I didn't really think of playing footy and representing our state and country until the 2017 World Cup," she said.
"I think that's what made me want to play footy. I watched that and just thought 'one day I want to play alongside those girls'."
It was a thought bubble that more than paid off, with Tungai earning an NRLW contract with the Dragons last season and then a representative jumper with the Prime Minister's XIII.
She backed up those performances for Country at this year's national championships, a showing that prompted new Blues coach Andrew Patmore to dial her number.
"I got the call from [Patmore] and he asked 'how's your day going?' I said good and he said 'do you think I can make it any better?' I was pretty stoked to hear that," she said.
"Last year was a good year for me and coming into this year it was a side I wanted to make. To have that opportunity next week is a huge honour.
"Origin footy's different, watching the rivalry last year it's going to be even tougher this year. I'm really looking forward to it."