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Sam Bremner cheered as hard as anyone when her Jillaroos team-mates beat the Kiwi Ferns in the 2017 World Cup final, but behind the smiles was a hidden heartbreak.

The flashy fullback, who is now the Jillaroos greatest tryscorer, had debuted in style four years earlier when Australia stormed to victory in the 2013 tournament and was primed for the title defence before she was cruelly cut down by injury.

Having waited nine years between World Cups, the 30-year-old made every moment count as the Jillaroos opened their 2022 campaign with a 74-0 win over Cook Islands.

“It’s crazy it has been nine years since my last World Cup game,” Bremner said after scoring four of Australia’s 14 tries in York on Thursday morning (AEDT).

“There have been so many times in the last nine years where I thought ‘when is the moment going to come that I can drop my shoulders and relax’ but I just had this hunger and I couldn’t get rid of it.

"I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax until I ran onto that field again.

Brilliant Bremner gets four

“I broke my leg two days before our first game [in 2017]. It was the third time I had broken that leg.

“When it came to deciding when to have children I knew that feeling was going to continue and I made the decision to put up with the hunger and that lack of contentment with my football until I could set it right.

“At that moment [when the girls won in 2017] I knew I had to play another World Cup because I didn’t have that feeling of achievement even though I was so proud of them.

“That’s why I am here because I want that feeling. “

On the evidence of the Jillaroos’ World Cup opener, Bremner may only have to wait 17 more days to again savour the feeling she had in 2013 when Australia took the title for the first time.

Just 21 at the time, Bremner announced herself in style with eight tries in the tournament, including five in one game against France in Featherstone.

She may have come up one shy of that haul against Cook Islands but Bremner’s four tries has taken her to the top of the all-time Jillaroos tryscorers list, one ahead of Steph Hancock.

Her personal tally of 16 points takes her career total to 56 in the green and gold, just two behind Hancock (58) and four shy of team-mate Ali Brigginshaw (60).

“I’m pretty proud [of that tryscoring record] because I feel like I haven’t played many games, I’ve been in a lot of campaigns, but I’ve had a few injuries and babies and what not,” Bremner said.

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“I’m so grateful for my journey because I look at everything so differently now.

“I would never usually celebrate just running onto the field and the game day nerves but it all meant so much more today because it has been such a wait.

“I feel really privileged to co-captain this wonderful bunch of girls. I respect them so much and I can learn so much off them.

“I broke my toe when I was going to captain the side in 2018 in New Zealand and then I had a baby and then it was COVID so it has been a long time coming.”

Bremner's World Cup appearance had added significance as daughter Lakey celebrated her first birthday on the eve of the match - meaning she would not have played if the tournament had taken place 12 months ago, as initially scheduled.

Bremner proud in Jillaroos return

“I definitely took a couple of moments before the game to think about my purpose and there was just so many contributing factors but the main ones are the two teams that have been driving me to get back on the field," she said.

"No.1 is my family back at home and my No.2 team is the Jillaroos. I thought about those two things and I just wanted to take the field.

"I think the time away from the game has given me appreciation for the game. I had such pride in my heart running out onto the field.

"It has been nine years since I was able to do that in a World Cup so I took every single moment in and I am so happy that I did what I set out to do and that was to run around the field again in a World Cup."


Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.