How that Origin kiss is changing lives
VANESSA Foliaki was part of one of the most iconic sport images of 2018 but the NSW Blues forward has revealed she was oblivious to the social media storm it had created. SUBSCRIBE NOW.
But NSW Blues forward Vanessa Foliaki was oblivious to the massive storm the photo of her kissing girlfriend, Queensland's Karina Brown, had created.
"When it first came out I was a bit shocked," Foliaki told The Daily Telegraph.
"I was tagged in so many things on Facebook and on Instagram. I didn't realise it was that photo because I didn't realise the photo had been taken."
As the siren sounded to end last year's historic clash, which the Blues won with a late try to Isabelle Kelly, Foliaki went searching for Brown.
The two embraced and the kiss they shared on North Sydney Oval was soon celebrated around the country - mostly.
"At the time, it was tough because there was a lot negative comments," Foliaki said.
"There was support but there was a few negative comments.
"A lot of young people messaged us and said how that photo has helped them. We are helping people and changing lives. If a photo like that can an inspiration to people who want to come out and be themselves then that's amazing."
Foliaki, who is of Tongan heritage, feared her community would poorly receive the photo. But the Blues prop forward now believes it has helped break down social and cultural taboos.
"I'm Tongan, in our culture and community being gay is not acceptable," she said.
"I know in my culture there are a lot of Polynesian people struggling with their identity because of the pressure and 'rule book' we have as Polynesians, so if I can make a difference with that photo, I'm happy."
Foliaki and Brown will battle it out for state supremacy once again at North Sydney Oval on Friday night.
Foliaki said the couple put their long-term relationship on hold over Origin time and the Jillaroo refuses to contact Brown while they are in their respective camps preparing for the match.
"I've been playing against Karina for five years, she's get blocked on the day she goes into camp. I delete her off all social media and I don't hear from her," Foliaki said with a laugh.
" The only time I'll see or hear from her is when I'm running out on Friday. I'm here in camp fully focused and I have a job to do and that's be focused on my game."
But even when Foliaki does see Brown out on the field for the first time in over a week, the Orange Hawks junior won't be holding back.
"Absolutely, I'm going to smash her. She's going to be wearing Maroon. I'll be ready to smash anybody wearing Maroon. She's just another person in Maroon to me. It's nothing personal but I have to get the upper hand. But after the game is done, we are back together," Foliaki said.
It won't take too long before tonight's hostilities between the pair is forgotten. Foliaki and Brown headline a slew of talent including Isabelle Kelly and Simaima Taufa, who have recommitted to the Sydney Roosters for season 2019 of the NRLW.