ACHIEVING your dreams in sport is all about hard work, dedication and sacrifice - just ask Jordyn Preston.
After countless hours on the road and on the training track, the Stingrays of Shellharbour talent was recently named in the Blues under 19s side to take on Queensland - following a strong showing with NSW Country at May's women's national championships at Redcliffe.
"I was so excited to be selected - I couldn't believe it at first," Preston, who was happy with how she played for NSW Country, said.
"It's definitely a goal I've been working towards for a while now, so I was over the moon to achieve it.
"In my eyes, this is a reflection of my commitment to training, regardless if it's at a Tarsha Gale level, club footy or just my own personal training.
"When I'm not at training, I'm at the gym to keep my fitness and strength up."
As well as being a hard-worker, the 18-year-old admits she's always willing to take on feedback as a way of improving her game.
"I welcome and take on board any kind of feedback I can get on my game," she said.
"I'm always asking my coaches and managers how I can improve my game, and then I focus on that until I feel like I've improved it.
"I've had a lot of support throughout my journey so far, so I'm super happy to have this result.
"Last year our Tarsha Gale season got cut short due to COVID-19 and I didn't get the opportunity to be selected for State of Origin.
"So I'm really excited and super grateful that I get the opportunity this year."
Preston's rugby league journey started at the Bomaderry Sports Complex with the under 10 Swamp Rats in 2012, before joining the Rays women's program - which saw her help the Flinders Field-based club win the 2020 Illawarra Division Rugby League under 18s premiership.
All that success has prepared her for this sky blue opportunity, which will see her go into camp on Sunday ahead of Friday, June 25's fixture at the Sunshine Coast.
"It will be incredibly special to wear that sky blue jersey," the Bomaderry High School alumna, who has also played league tag for Bomaderry, Berry-Shoalhaven Heads and now the Stingrays, said.
"It's such an honour to represent my state in a sport I've loved since I was a kid.
"It's an experience a lot of people don't get the privilege to have, so I'm super grateful to be a part of it all and be able to pull on that sky blue jersey."
Making the occasion even more special is that she'll do it alongside fellow Group Seven talents Teagan Berry (Stingrays) and Keele Browne (Milton-Ulladulla).
"Being able to run on that field with Teagan and Keele will be something I'll never forget," she said.
"We've played alongside each other for a few years now in Tarsha Gale, after competing against each other earlier in our careers.
"They work really hard and we play really well as a team, so hopefully we can continue to play together more in future."
Preston, who will start from the bench for Blake Cavallaro's side, hopes to bring plenty of energy when she is inserted to the play against the Maroons.
"Friday will be anyone's game, as both sides have a lot of talent and potential," she said.
"In saying that, I'm confident NSW are capable of coming out on top, as everyone on the team has already bonded really well off the field, which is really important in teams as it makes it easier to work together on the field.
"If we can transition that into our game, along with everyone's individual strengths, I know we can come away with the win."
This selection has given Preston confidence in her ability to one day play in the NRLW competition.
"This has definitely motivated me to achieve even higher honours in the future," she said.
"I want to continue working hard and focusing on rugby league after Origin.
"The women's game is getting bigger all the time and I'm really excited to see what the future holds for me within the game.
"The Blues jersey has been a big goal for me, and now I want set my next goal and keep working my way up the ranks."
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