24 October, 2023

Snakes union duo represents Queensland Country

The recent Australian Rugby Shield (ARS) competition at Ballymore was a memorable occasion for two Caboolture Snakes players who lined up in the Queensland Country Orchids women’s team.

Caboolture Snakes rugby union teammates Olivia Fidow and Ane Mailau represented the Queensland Country Orchids in the recent Australian Rugby Shield competition.
Caboolture Snakes rugby union teammates Olivia Fidow and Ane Mailau represented the Queensland Country Orchids in the recent Australian Rugby Shield competition.

Snakes women’s captain Olivia Fidow donned the No. 3 jersey while her club teammate Ane Mailau wore No. 2, as it was the first time the Orchids competed in the ARS.

The Queensland Country team won twice and lost once in the round-robin stage, before losing in the finals as the NSW Country Corellas completed an undefeated run.

Many of the Orchids players came from the Darling Downs – especially the Roma Echidnas – while others came from North Queensland and Central Queensland, in addition to the small contingent from southern Queensland.

Fidow and Mailau were familiar with some of their Queensland Country teammates, after playing together in Sunshine Coast Stingrays and South Queensland representative teams.

Asked if her role with the Orchids was similar to what it has been with the Snakes, Fidow said, “Yes and no in the sense that the role itself is the same, however at this level everyone knows their role and are a little more advanced in the game.

“It was definitely great just being a player and not having the full responsibility of captain as I have been in the levels leading up to Queensland Country from club to Stingrays to South Queensland.”

Mailau, meanwhile, said the intensity was different from club games while another difference in the representative scene was having 15 players per side rather than 12.

“(It’s my) second season playing rugby so (I’m) still learning as I go,” Mailau said.

Fidow and Mailau enjoyed playing alongside each other in the Queensland Country team, with Fidow saying, “It was an absolute joy getting to share this experience with a fellow Snake.

“I believe it was a great benefit to our team having the two of us who’ve worked very close together, especially in the positions we play as tighthead and hooker from club level week in week out.”

Mailau said it was always a pleasure running alongside Fidow.

“She’s more experienced than I am, so it was nice having her around showing me the ropes,” Mailau said.

Fidow said it was “quite a journey” for her in the lead-up to the recent ARS, after she fractured the head of her left fibula when playing in a semi-final for the Snakes several weeks earlier.

The Snakes captain wasn’t cleared to run until Saturday September 23, before going into camp two days later and then lining up in the first match on the Wednesday.

“It was most definitely a challenge, going from no running to playing four intense rep level rugby games plus the daily training sessions, sometimes twice a day,” Fidow said.

The Orchids had just two training sessions before their opening clash with Victoria, which won 12-10 after the teams scored two tries apiece.

“I feel we were still finding our feet with each other,” Mailau said afterwards.

“By (the) second half we were slowly gelling as a team, and unfortunately went down by two points.”

Fidow described this defeat as “tough at first, especially going down by a conversion”.

“We took that game as a learning experience, given we had only just come together as a team,” she said.

“Our first half was a little scattered but soon came together where we gained two tries and Victoria got no more.”

The conditions also changed markedly for the Orchids, with their first game played under lights at night before their remaining fixtures were played in hot conditions as kick-off times were 10.30am, 1.30pm and 2pm.

“The weather really challenged us in our grand final for sure, topping 26 degrees,” Fidow said.

Less than 48 hours after their first contest, the Orchids amassed eight tries in a 46-3 thumping of Queensland Suburban Women.

In their final round-robin match, the Orchids scored four tries to one as they beat Perth Gold 30-5.

Fidow said the first-up loss “helped fuel our successes in the following (two) games”.

Queensland Country subsequently had a highly anticipated finals clash with the Corellas, who scored three tries to one in an 18-11 victory.

Fidow had perhaps her best game of the competition as she played for 60 minutes out of the regulation 80 and was involved in numerous scrums, line-outs and counter mauls, having been the front lifter in line-outs.

Mailau meanwhile threw the ball into the line-outs for the Orchids.

“Our grand final loss against NSW Country without a doubt hit hard,” Fidow said.

“We really wanted the win so bad, however NSW Country was just the better team.

“There were so many ‘would’ve, could’ve, should’ve’ and changes that could have been made early, but such is the game of rugby.

“We use that as fuel to fire us up for the next opportunity.”

Mailau said the loss to the Corellas “was a tough one and they were obviously the better team that day”.

“That’s just all part of the competition. You win some, you lose some,” she said.

Mailau said she was “proud of everyone’s efforts”.

“I think we did really well, considering we all don’t play 15s back at our own clubs and (it was the) first time coming together as a team,” Mailau said.

Fidow said she had underestimated the Orchids team as a lot of the original players were unable to play due to personal reasons, while some had moved to the Brisbane competition.

In a good way, Fidow said she soon realised how wrong she was once the Orchids took to the field.

“The losses we had were not a true reflection of the quality our team had,” she said.

“We were very fortunate to have some of the talent, knowledge and experience from a lot of our players this year.

“The Perth team which we beat 30-5 was one of the top teams tipped to win this year, and (when) watching their previous games in the comp we certainly saw their strengths.”

Looking ahead to next year, Fidow and Mailau indicated they would continue club football with the Snakes after the team finished one game shy of a grand final berth last season.

Mailau said she felt there was unfinished business, while Fidow has found herself in a similar situation to this time last year as she has again attracted interest from clubs in the Brisbane competition.

“This has always been a challenging decision for me to make for a number of reasons, but most of all my love and commitment for the Snakes runs deep,” Fidow said.

Other factors which Fidow identified were work and home life and the amount of travel involved.

“Our job to bring that premiership cup home to the Snakes has not been completed yet so…..” she said.


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