'I just felt comfortable kissing my girlfriend' - female league players at centre of viral after-match kiss photo break silence

The two female rugby league players who were captured kissing after the women's State of Origin match have finally broken their silence on the online reaction to the shared image.

Karina Brown and Vanessa Foliaki were snapped in an embrace after New South Wales beat the Maroons in June - an image the NRL later posted on social media.

Brown and Foliaki said it was a normal reaction for them.

"I live with Vanessa, so I see her every single day and kiss her every single day,” Brown said in an article written for Players Voice

"Seven days without her — me in Queensland camp, her with NSW — was a long time.

"It's funny, because that's just a normal moment for Ness and I, and for our friends and family. I feel really fortunate to have been born in a time where I could do that; be myself and not have to worry about who was watching me. I just felt comfortable kissing my girlfriend.

"Origin is a tough, emotional time for us. We’re both passionate about our states and we take it very seriously. I was Queensland captain this year.

"To barely speak for a whole week, to have nearly a hatred for each other — purely in terms of the state we’re playing for — it takes a toll.

"So, to finally see her afterwards was very emotional. I was really proud of her achievement, winning the first official women’s State of Origin game, even though it came at my side’s expense. It’s a funny set of feelings to process."

There was mostly positive responses on social media to the image but the NRL was quick to shut down people who viewed it negatively.

"Welcome to 2018 … can’t wait for you to join us!" it wrote to a number of negative fans.

"If we can post a photo of Cooper Cronk and his wife Tara kissing, then we can share a photo of Karina Brown and Ness Foliaki sharing a moment too," the NRL replied to another.

Brown said she was happy the world saw the picture, even with the negative responses.

"I think it was good for the world to see, to show how far we’ve come as a society. Yet also to show that we’ve still got some way to go. Not all the feedback was positive.

"For some people, it’s still a shock. I guess the more we can get it out there, that it’s OK to be who you are, it won’t be a shock anymore. It’ll just be normal. It is normal.

"I look forward to the day where my moment with Vanessa is just a regular post-match photo. And I don’t think we’re far off it."

NSW Blues player Vanessa Foliaki kisses her partner Queensland player Karina Brown after women's State of Origin match.
NSW Blues player Vanessa Foliaki kisses her partner Queensland player Karina Brown after women's State of Origin match.


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Injury hit Canberra Raiders under the pump as they chase NRL top eight

Canberra are still guessing who will assume the kicking duties against Cronulla with injuries to star Raiders Jarrod Croker and Aidan Sezer.

Back-rower Jack Murchie, 21, will make his NRL debut by coming off the bench in place of Sezer after the halfback injured his hamstring at training on Tuesday.

Sezer was locked in to do Canberra's goal-kicking after slotting in seamlessly to the job when Croker was injured early in the Raiders' victory over North Queensland.

But with Croker out for the remainder of the season because of a dislocated knee cap and Sezer on the sidelines indefinitely, the Raiders are forced to finding fresh kicking options.

Hooker Josh Hodgson, who will captain the Raiders in Croker's absence, has ruled himself out of performing the duty but did throw surprise candidates into the mix.

Hodgson says he would love to see forwards Josh Papalii and Junior Paulo take some kicks, revealing their kicking game was more than capable.

"We've got absolutely no clue at the minute," Hodgson said.

"I'm tipping big Papa (Papalii) or Juns (Paulo)... honestly no-one believes me but they can kick goals.

"I was going throw my name in the hat but I'll stick to football."

Blake Austin comes into the starting line-up for Friday night's game following Sezer's injury after the team had been named.

Canberra will be missing five key players for the trip to Southern Cross Group Stadium, with Shannon Boyd, Joseph Tapine and Jack Wighton already on the sidelines.

The Raiders sit two games outside of the top-eight, while Cronulla are three games ahead in sixth on the ladder.

"We know it's going to be tough going there for the result with a few people out," Hodgson said.

"The Sharks are obviously going to be favourites but we've just got to go out there and put our best foot forward."


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Eels' Peni Terepo rips in after near-sacking

He almost had his contract torn up, but now Peni Terepo is ready to rip in with a new deal.

Terepo was on the cusp of ending up on the NRL scrapheap last year after failing to inform Parramatta about a careless driving conviction in New Zealand early last year.

He pleaded guilty to careless driving and refusing a blood alcohol test, which resulted in him getting fined $15,000 and suspended for three games by the club.

But the Tonga international has since found his way back into coach Brad Arthur's good books, revealing he had signed a two-year extension with the club earlier this season.

"I re-signed with the club at the start of the year and am really happy to stay," Terepo told AAP.

"I came over when I was 16 turning 17, played SG Ball here, and I hope to remain a one-club player. Coming over here was hard, to start a new life away from home.

"But now that Parramatta's home to me, it'd be hard if I was to move on."

The 26-year-old leads all Eels forwards in tackle busts (31) to emerge as one of Arthur's most devastating big men in an otherwise disappointing campaign.

He paid credit to Arthur for giving him a chance following last year's incident.

"He's always been loyal to me, stuck by my side, fought for me and he's helped me in that part of my life, from my troubles," Terepo said.

"He's been an awesome coach to me as well and helped me be a better player and person.

"He had his time to spray me and then after that he was all for helping me. He really wanted me to stay at the club. His loyalty and faith in me really opened my eyes.

"That motivated me to repay him in the way I've played and trained this year."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Peni Terepo of the Eels is tackled during the round 11 Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on May 18, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Peni Terepo of the Eels is tackled during the round 11 Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium. Source: Getty


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