The Maroons ran out 18-10 victors over the Blues at CommBank Stadium in game one of the first-ever two-game women’s Origin series, with Kelly’s absence leaving a gaping hole in the NSW defence in the second half.
The Blues’ star centre was left in the hands of trainers in the final few minutes of the first half after copping an elbow from Queensland’s Julia Robinson to her throat, leaving NSW one player short on defence.
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The referees waved off the incident and the Maroons capitalised shortly afterwards with a try to Tazmin Gray.
After being assessed at half-time, Kelly was rushed to a nearby hospital.
“She was coughing up blood and really struggling to breathe, so she’s actually been taken to hospital as a precaution,” Nine’s Emma Lawrence revealed on the coverage.
Lawrence said Kelly had been admitted into hospital shortly after the final whistle.
“She’s in hospital. She’s not great. There are concerns around her throat,” she told the media in her post-match press conference.
“A real blow for the Blues. She’s got an elbow right in the throat,” Blues icon Phil Gould said on Nine’s coverage as Kelly was helped from the field.
“Feels like you’ve got three Adam’s apples when that happens, feels like you’ve swallowed a cricket ball.”
Speaking post-match, Robinson responded to the nature of her elbow on Kelly.
“We’re not out there to hurt people,” she told ABC Sport.
“I love Izzy (Kelly), so obviously I felt terrible that she went down … I hope she’s okay now.”
However, Blues coach Kylie Hilder was left puzzled as to why her side did not receive a penalty for Robinson’s errant elbow.
Maroons go end to end to score
“It’s a big concern for me when we’ve got a player on the ground and actually in discomfort and not in a great way, and she was struggling to breathe, so it’s a very big concern,” she said in her post-match press conference.
“I still don’t understand why there wasn’t even a penalty for that, she was hit in the throat.”
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Hilder admitted that the incident left her team rattled.
“They were. Especially because a lot was going on in the sheds – the ambulance came in for Izzy [and] she was in a lot of discomfort so there was a fair bit of noise as well,” she said.
“We had to rally the girls and just let them know that we had a half to get out there and get on with it.”
Queensland executed a strong second half, capitalising on a lapse in the Blues’ concentration shortly after half-time to score two tries in the space of five minutes that blew the game wide open.
Fellow Blues skipper Kezie Apps ultimately put the loss down to New South Wales’ list of errors.
“Yeah, 100 per cent (down to the errors). I feel like if we held the ball a bit more … all those errors and the disciplinary side of things really hurt us tonight,” she told Nine.
“It’s the exciting part of having another game, we can play in a couple of weeks, and this is the first time we can watch the game back and fix up a lot of our effort and discipline areas.”
The Blues will have the chance to draw the series at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium on June 22.
If they win game two, the winner of the series will be decided by the points aggregate.
Game one’s eight-point margin Queensland’s way means the Blues will have to win by at least nine points in Townsville to retain the State of Origin shield.
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