Karina Brown thought 2020 would be hard to top, but 2021 is now proving to be one of her best years yet with the month of June full of success and capped off with exciting news.
"It started off with the Burleigh Bears' premiership, then winning State of Origin last Friday night and now being signed by the Gold Coast Titans.
"I felt like I had a really great 2020 too - I won the premiership with Burleigh, won State of Origin and then played NRLW with the Warriors.
"This year feels like 2020 all over again."
Brown is one of five women announced on Tuesday as inaugural signings for Gold Coast's Telstra Women’s Premiership team.
When you are establishing a new team, culture is something that needs to be established quickly.
Karina Brown joins the Titans
There are few players in the women’s game with more experience than Brown.
Brown made her Test debut at the Jillaroos' successful 2013 World Cup campaign and was also part of the winning team in 2017.
She helped to establish the Bears as well as the Easts Tigers, has represented the Queensland Maroons in 2012, 2012 and from 2015 onward and has played for several NRLW clubs, including the Sydney Roosters and the Warriors.
Now she has the opportunity to be part of creating a NRLW team.
"Helping to build a culture at a new club is what I was most excited about and a big reason why I wanted to be part of a new club," Brown said.
Helping to build a culture at a new club is what I was most excited about.Karina Brown
"I helped start the Burleigh Bears in 2012 and had experience last year in helping Brad Donald with the Warriors so I am quite familiar with what it takes to build a successful team and what goes into culture."
Additionally, what is driving Brown and her new teammates is Titans CEO Steve Mitchell's drive for success.
"His vision is to return premierships back to the Gold Coast," she said.
"There has been no elite team that has ever been able to deliver that first premiership so our challenge is to do that."
Her fellow foundation recruits are not only exceptional players, but they also share that vision - Georgia Hale, Tazmin Gray, Crystal Tamarua and Brittany Breayley-Nati.
After extensive work in the pre-season on fitness, Gray recently starred in the final for Burleigh in their grand final win over Valley Diehards and then won the Nellie Doherty Medal in the Ampol State of Origin clash on the Sunshine Coast.
Hale, who has captained the Kiwi Ferns and the Warriors, relocated to Queensland after last year's NRLW season.
"She is so disciplined," Brown said. "That was one of the things I noticed about her last year when she was captaining the Warriors.
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"She brings so much determination, the will to win and will do whatever it takes."
After she finished playing in the QRL Women’s Premiership, Hale joined North Sydney to get more game time, flying in and out from the Gold Coast each week.
"When you add Crystal and Brittany, we have a really solid forward pack. Brittany will bring so much of that level-headed composure and always shows leadership with her actions," Brown said.
"To have someone like her in the middle is giving me a lot of confidence, even without knowing who our other signings are."
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The introduction of women’s teams to clubs with already established men’s teams can have an important impact on culture.
By having clubs which are inclusive of men and women at the elite level, Brown is hoping the new NRLW team will have the opportunity to share their experiences with their male counterparts.
"We want to show the men what it is like to be a female player.
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"We don’t get the million-dollar salaries and there are plenty of challenges for us, whether it’s working full-time, studying or raising a family.
"One of the Titans' values is around being selfless and that is a quality that so many women in footy embody.
"We want to show the men how much we love the game and that’s literally why we play, because of our passion and love for rugby league."