Wauchope Thunder prop Ellie Johnston to debut for St George Illawarra Dragons in NRLW season opener in Canberra

Dream run: Wauchope Thunder's Ellie Johnston has been selected for St George Illawarra in their NRLW season opener on Saturday. Photo: supplied
Dream run: Wauchope Thunder's Ellie Johnston has been selected for St George Illawarra in their NRLW season opener on Saturday. Photo: supplied

Dreams can often come true - often as a result of hard work and sacrifices.

Former Wauchope Thunder star Ellie Johnston can vouch for that after she was named to start for the St George Illawarra Dragons in their NRLW season opener in Canberra on Saturday.

Twelve months ago the teenager was terrorising Wallamba as the Thunder cruised to a 55-0 lower Mid North Coast women's rugby union grand final win.

Her progression through the ranks will be complete at GIO Stadium when she lines up alongside some of the best women's rugby league players in Australia.

"It makes me so nervous because you're playing with girls like Isabelle Kelly, Jess Sergis, Kezie Apps, Maddie Studdon ... they're all guns," Johnston said.

"I've really got to step up and do my role because I'm starting with them and it's nerve-wracking because it's only my first season of rugby league too so it's a lot to take in."

Johnston said she had received the backing of coach Daniel Lacey where she will line up in the front row with another star of the game - Queensland State of Origin prop Steph Hancock.

"The coach has definitely showed a lot of faith in me," she said.

"He said it's nothing different and just to play how I have been all year and that's all I've got to remember - it's just a normal game of footy."

The 19-year-old, however, knows the dream was unlikely to become a reality if she didn't take a leap of faith that saw her move to Sydney.

"I just knew that if I stayed on the Mid North Coast I wasn't going to progress with what I wanted to do and I knew I wanted to play footy," she said.

She then spent countless days down at the park "training my arse off" to become a better player.

On the charge: Johnston in open space for the Rabbitohs. Photo: supplied

On the charge: Johnston in open space for the Rabbitohs. Photo: supplied

After moving in with older sister Katie in the harbour city she starred during a trial for South Sydney that saw her selected in the club's Harvey Norman Women's Premiership side.

But the Forster product's dream run through to an NRLW appearance appeared to come to an end a month ago when she suffered a knee injury in the Rabbitohs 24-0 elimination semi-final loss to North Sydney.

"I dislocated my patella so I thought that was the end of me for this year and I was really torn about that," she said.

"I had people telling me it was my ACL but luckily it wasn't and they didn't know whether i was going to be right to play or not.

"I've really stuck in the last three weeks of rehab and I'm right to play."

This story Sacrifices worth it as Thunder gun prepares for NRLW debut first appeared on Port Macquarie News.