Shenae Ciesiolka and the Broncos keeping it simple

Shenae Ciesiolka of the Maroons races away with an intercept during the Women's State of Origin series. Matt King/Getty Images

As I get ready to hang up the phone after my conversation with Shenae Ciesiolka, I ask her one more question. I ask her to help me learn to pronounce her last name correctly.

After teaching me (Se-zol-ka), Ciesiolka tells me that she has become used to varying pronunciations of her name.

"When I was younger, I did gymnastics and before you do your routine, you get announced," said Ciesiolka.

"During those early years I got used to lots of different pronunciations of my surname so I just got used to it.

"I've heard some interesting ones over the years and it certainly doesn't sound like its spelt."

When people think about the success of the Broncos National Women's Rugby League team, they often think of players like Ali Brigginshaw, Chelsea Lenarduzzi and Julia Robinson.

But Ciesiolka is a player that has also been a constant part of this team for the last three years and has continued to grow in confidence when representing her country as part of the Australian Jillaroos or her state with the Queensland Maroons.

After a successful Rugby League World Cup campaign in 2022 with the Jillaroos, Ciesiolka backed that up with a stand-out performance during this year's State of Origin series.

In Queensland's 18-10 win over New South Wales in Game I, Ciesiolka took an intercept to run 65 metres down the field. Even though she was tackled, this play led to Queensland's third try and put Queensland in the box seat to claim the series.

"I am my own toughest critic," said Ciesiolka.

"I always want to be better and I always want to improve, but this year I have really started to believe in myself.

"After giving rugby league up when I was 10 and couldn't keep playing with the boys, it took me some time to get confident with the game again.

"I've had a great year so far, but I know I have so much more to offer.

The Broncos had a slow start to this National Women's Rugby League Premiership, but have won three out of their last four games.

With their narrow victory over the Sharks on Saturday, the Broncos have snuck into the Top 4 for the first time this year. They are currently ahead of the Raiders on for-and-against and moving forward they don't want to be in a position where they are relying on other results to go their way to make the finals.

"Our focus is to keep it simple," said Ciesiolka.

"We have seen glimpses of what this team can do through the season so our focus is to stay consistent and we know that will lead to success.

Quite incredibly, despite breaking her nose last weekend, Ali Brigginshaw took the field against the Sharks.

"We cannot take her seriously at the moment because she has these two big, panda black eyes," said Ciesiolka.

"Ali is a tough player so I knew something was wrong because she stayed down and then I saw her with blood pouring down her face.

For Ciesiolka, one of the surprises from this year's NRLW season is how competitive the competition has remained even with the introduction of four new teams.

"A few of us were a bit worried that we might be expanding too quickly, but what we have seen is how much talent is out there," said Ciesiolka.

"We've been able to give around 100 new girls the opportunity to play in the NRLW and those women have shown that they are capable of competing at that level.

The competition continues to give women and girls the opportunity to play at the highest level; but importantly women of all shapes and sizes.

"Our game is for everyone and there is a role in the team for everybody," said Ciesiolka.

"I'm a back and my role is very different to the forwards, but without the forwards doing their job properly I can't do mine.

"Our team will only be successful if everyone plays their role."