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Shenae brings speed and skill to new Devils

Shenae Ciesiolka has tried her hand at so many new things, it seems only right the Jillaroo has signed with the new team in the BMD Premiership.

Ciesiolka will play for the Norths Devils in the club’s inaugural season in Queensland’s premier competition, months after featuring in Australia’s successful Women’s Rugby League World Cup campaign.

Her signing is a coup for Norths and for valued sponsor Ironforge Security as the Devils head towards the March 11 season-opener at Bishop Park, excited at the prospect of joining the eight-team statewide competition.

Ciesiolka’s sporting history is marked by success at new things.

As a 10-year-old from Oakey, Ciesiolka was a handy high-jumper. But she was using the scissor style of jumping rather than the Fosbury flop that enabled greater height.

No problem. Ciesiolka flopped for the first time to win the state age title and claimed the national championship soon after.

The trend continued years later when Ciesiolka was spotted by Broncos’ scouts and catapulted into their 2020 NRLW season, winning a premiership in quick time.

Ciesiolka was selected for Queensland’s State of Origin squad after only four NRLW games.

Her love of football goes back to her youth when dad Brett and brother Brodie coached and played for the Oakey Bears. Ciesiolka, a veteran of backyard battles with Brodie, wanted to play too.

Brett wasn’t so sure but eventually agreed. The Bears were quickly boosted by the outside back in the headgear whom opposition players thought was a boy when she blasted past them.

“I was the only girl playing in that competition at the time and I would just get the ball and pin my ears back and go as fast as I could,” Ciesiolka said.

“It was a bit intimidating to be out there with all the boys but I just wanted to play. It taught me a lot and I was glad that I had the chance to do that for a few seasons.”

Ciesiolka had to quit league when restrictions against girls kicked in after the Under 12 season.

She then mixed between athletics, touch football (making the Australian girls’ Under 18 team at age 14) and eventually rugby sevens in pursuit of an Olympic Games berth.

That stalled when a terrible knee injury sidelined Ciesiolka for 13 months before the Broncos came knocking to boost their backline depth.

Now juggling her league career with university study in education and growing commitments in her home of Toowoomba, Ciesiolka is excited to be among the Devils’ BMD Premiership pioneers.

She joins her cousin and Broncos teammate Jada Ferguson in a Devils squad guided by coach Zac Wallwork. Ciesiolka and Ferguson were this week named in an extended Maroons’ State of Origin squad for 2023.

“When I first came to the club, I saw the names (of men’s first grade players) on the wall and it helped me understand some of the history of the club,” Ciesiolka said.

“The club goes back 90 years so we’re excited to be part of creating something new in this competition.

“We’re realistic about how challenging the season will be. We’re new and we have to start building something. We haven’t all played together before but some of us have experience in the same teams.

“It’s just a really exciting time to be part of it all and we’re looking forward to getting it started and hopefully the girls can stay together here for some time.”

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