1632 days of persistence: Behind Tallisha Harden's Jillaroos recall

Tallisha Harden has had to wait 1632 days to get back into the green and gold jersey and it's fair to say a lot has changed since the Jillaroos forward last represented her country.

The late Steve Folkes was the coach who handed Harden her Test debut in 2015, a match that saw her shift from the bench to centres after Sam Bremner was forced from the field with a broken leg.

"And then two weeks later I broke my ankle," Harden told NRL.com from Jillaroos camp in Wollongong.

"It was a crazy debut. The match was scheduled for a Friday night but it got rained out at Suncorp Stadium because of the flooding. We had to play it on the Sunday.

"I played about 70 minutes in a position I hadn't before and we ended up winning the game. I thought that might have been the start of everything with the Jillaroos until injury destroyed it.

"Hopefully this experience is a lot smoother."

Harden's struggles with her ankle rehabilitation stretched into the 2017 season, where she put any further international aspirations - particularly the World Cup - on hold to get herself right.

It was a case of short-term pain for a long-term gain for the Indigenous All Stars representative, who is expected to come off the bench for Brad Donald's side in Friday night's Test at WIN Stadium.

"I was always grinding away behind the scenes but it just took a long time to get back in because the talent just exploded and it's so much more competitive now for a jersey," the 27-year-old said.

"You always want to get back in, it's the pinnacle of women's rugby league to be in the Jillaroos. But I definitely never thought I would be back here, literally, the girls were laughing last night because I was the last one to get out of the team jersey for our photos.

"They were saying you will get it again and I said I just wanted to stay in it a bit longer. It means a lot to me."

Harden is making the most of the technology and support staff working with the Jillaroos.

"I remember it being really professional with the set up and lead up but you just see how far it's come since then and you can't ask for much more," she said.

"There's a full time strength and conditioning coach, GPS units in our vests to assess our performance and a specialised training jersey.

"A few years ago we just trained in normal loose shirts … it's the little things off the field that has helped us improve and I think we're seeing it in the quality on the field now."

 

Be there live at WIN Stadium for the Test Match Double Header. Visit nrl.com/tickets to purchase tickets.