WIN Stadium Test a surreal feeling for Davis

HOME TURF: Keeley Davis says playing for the Jillaroos at WIN stadium will be a "surreal" feeling. Picture: Anna Warr
HOME TURF: Keeley Davis says playing for the Jillaroos at WIN stadium will be a "surreal" feeling. Picture: Anna Warr

THE last time the Jillaroos came to town, Keeley Davis was still a student at Holy Spirit College - and somewhat in awe of visiting stars Ruan Sims and Simaima Taufa.

That was in 2017, three years after she sat on the WIN Stadium hill and watched the Jillaroos take on a Kiwi-Ferns side featuring the likes Honey Hireme and Teuila Fotu-Moala.

She's now played with and against all four giants of women's league. It's a reality that really hits home as she prepares to return to WIN Stadium on October 25 - this time on the other side of the fence.

"Two years ago Ruan Sims and Simaima Taufa came to my high school and gave a talk during their [2017] World Cup prep," Davis recalls.

"It's something I remember very vividly. I've played with them and against them so it's pretty surreal. [The Test] here was the first time I saw Teuila play and the hits were just huge.

"It's going to be a pretty surreal feeling getting to play at my home ground. Going in last year for my [Test] debut I was so nervous and I didn't really take the experience in.

"Looking back there's a lot of regrets about the nerves and not letting it sink in. I'm looking forward to going in a lot more confident and enjoying the experience a lot more."

The regrets may have come in hindsight, but facing the Kiwi Ferns in New Zealand meant the nerves were warranted.

"I was on the bench for the first 20 minutes and I was expecting the pace to drop off but the pace of the game was just frantic the whole time," she said.

"When I got on for the last 10 minutes of the first half they were still going 100 per cent. I looked at the clock and I'd been on for two minutes, I thought I'd been on for 20. Everything was up a notch, it was crazy."

The 2018 whirlwind was pulled up somewhat by a second serious elbow injury earlier this year. It kept her out of Origin reckoning and the Corrimal product admits she feared the road back to a Jillaroos jumper could be a long one.

"After I got my injury this year and missed out on Origin and was [number] 14 for Country I was a bit concerned," she said.

"I think before that injury I was as fit as I've ever been. I'd worked really, really hard so I knew if I kept doing that there was no way I'd come back be a worse player than I was last year.

"It's been pretty up and down the last few days after the [NRLW] grand final but seeing the news I was very, very excited and very grateful to be selected again."

A genuine utility, Davis played three of her four NRLW games for the Dragons at five-eighth after Kimiora Nati missed the bulk of the tournament through illness.

Her return to the Jillaroos fold will likely come as a bench utility, a role she's more than happy to play.

"I think I'm definitely most comfortable as six," she said.

"I'm very comfortable defending on the edge and playing that role in attack. I think in the future I'll probably move into the nine a bit more but I'm happy to do whatever the team needs."

This story Test return on home turf surreal for Davis first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.