Picture of Origin players kissing leads to backlash
AN IMAGE of two female footballers from opposing teams locking lips in a kiss has sparked a backlash from a handful of fans online, leading the NRL to back the photo.
A photo of women's State of Origin players Karina Brown, who plays for Queensland, and Vanessa Foliaki, of NSW, was posted to the NRL's social media accounts after the thrilling game came to a conclusion on Friday night.
NSW captain Maddie Studdon led NSW to a defiant win in the inaugural Women's State of Origin and became the poster girl for female athletes in Australia.
But it was Foliaki and Brown who stole the limelight. They have been in a relationship since their selection for the Jillaroos in 2014.
The pair says the rugby league family "wants us to get married" and that the "coaching staff are supportive. We're feeling all the love".
The image of the couple kissing was met with disdain from some fans, with one claiming it was a "bad move" by the NRL.
The NRL responded with: "Welcome to 2018 … can't wait for you to join us!".
Another claimed the NRL was "already sexualising the women's league" and that it was "one step forward, three steps back".
The NRL replied: "If we can post a of Cooper Cronk and his wife Tara kissing, then we can share a photo of Karina Brown and Ness Foliaki sharing a moment too."
In the lead-up to the game the couple told NRL.com they have spent their relationship "competing against each other on several occasions".
The couple said the State of Origin would be "their biggest relationship challenge yet" and that their relationship "has never been an issue among their teammates and support staff".
"Karina saw me across the room. We were drinking at the bar and she decided to shout everyone a drink, have a skolling competition and couldn't beat me. I smashed her. It started from there," Foliaki said.
The inaugural Women's State of Origin has been hailed as the first step towards parity with the men's game after NSW claimed a 16-10 victory over Queensland on Friday night.
Despite missing a host of stars - including Ruan Sims and Caitlyn Moran - and losing Corban McGregor and Rebecca Riley to injury in the first-half, NSW toughed it out to claim the historic win at North Sydney Oval.
The match was a giant leap forward for women's rugby league. The annual match has been known as the Interstate Challenge for the first 19 years and it was the first time the game carried the Origin branding.
A healthy crowd of 6824 watched on at North Sydney and the match was broadcast live on Nine Network and Fox Sports.
The women's teams hope the concept will be expanded in years to come to a three-game series, similar to the men's Origin.
As well, halves were only 30 minutes because of concerns about the fitness levels of the players, who are only semi-professional.
Asked if future Women's Origin should have 40-minute halves, Queensland coach Jason Hetherington said: "I think you'd have to progress up to it.
"You could go to 35 and see how that works and eventually get up to 40, but I think it'll be a bit of time before that happens."
"They were looking for that marquee Origin game and they got it," NSW coach Ben Cross said.
"Queensland came with a terrific attitude and the game wasn't the prettiest game - execution wasn't the best.
"But that's what Origin is all about - both teams were so gritty and tenacious in defence. Some of the physicality and some of the hits out there, it was a real Origin. They proved their worth to have Origin alongside their name."
In April, controversial rugby union player Israel Folau came under fire after saying gay people were destined to go to hell.
In a comment to a follower who had asked the Wallabies player what was "God's plan for gay people", he responded: "HELL. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God."
- with AAP