Achievements are still sinking in for Chelsea Baker
RUGBY LEAGUE: She's been back on Gladstone soil for less than 48 hours but Brisbane Broncos NRLW Premiership winner Chelsea Baker's homecoming will be short lived.
The Broncos fullback will head back to Brisbane for the club's end-of-season presentation night on Saturday before ramping up preparations for the Australian Jillaroos ahead of its Test against the Kiwi Ferns on October 13.
It was back to reality yesterday for the mother of two who spoke to The Observer after shopping for a suit for husband Matt, who will attend the Broncos' Ball with her on the weekend.
Still sporting her unmistakeable pink hair, Baker's fame has gone up a notch since Brisbane's 34-12 Grand Final victory against the Sydney Roosters and she is beginning to notice it.
"I had a couple of people (yesterday) morning give me that look and I had a car toot at me as I came into the mall," Baker said.
"It's bizarre because I'm one of those people that thinks I should know everybody that's talking to me and I've got a really bad memory - I think to myself 'do I actually know you'.
"The hair is still pink so I can't really hide unless I put a hat on."
Known for changing her hair colour more than the seasons, Baker will resist the temptation to dye it green or gold ahead of the Auckland Test.
"The pink is still a bit fresh so I don't want my hair to actually fall out so I'll just stick with it for now," she said.
Colourful on and off the field, the 32-year-old's list of achievements during 2018 has been phenomenal.
Four of those achievements - inaugural NRLW Premiership winner, leading point scorer for the season with 38 points, Brisbane's first try scorer and NRLW Try of the Year recipient - have all happened in the past four weeks.
And it's still sinking in for the Gladstone Wallabys' playmaker.
"I'm definitely still trying to come to terms with it," Baker said.
"It's not that I forget but sometimes when I'm back with my kids and husband - so straight back into normal mum life - then when I sit and have got time to think for a second I think 'wait we won an NRLW premiership' and I start smiling and tearing up.
"I drove home (Tuesday) and it was quite an emotion drive because I kept thinking that we won and then the tears would come... I'm very much still pinching myself after what was an amazing experience."
Having played at some of the country's iconic rugby league grounds - Suncorp Stadium, Sydney Football Stadium, AAMI Park and most recently ANZ Stadium - Baker tried to block out most of the crowd and focus on her role during Brisbane's 22-point grand final triumph.
"I never look up into the crowd - it doesn't bother me if there's one person in the crowd or 10,000 - I don't look up, I don't look around I just keep my head on my job in the game," she said.
"I managed to drown a lot of that out but being the goalkicker you get heckled quite a bit. Of course being down in New South Wales playing against the Roosters girls I was coping a bit of heckling there but it's part of the game and I love it.
"It's a really good atmosphere no matter what stadium you're at."
Baker announced herself to the greater rugby league community during Round 1 of the season with two tries and five goals, including Brisbane's very first NRLW try.
It's a small piece of trivia that could very well be a question underneath a stubby cap in the coming years.
"I haven't been thinking about it much because it's something that's brand new," Baker said.
"I've always just grown up with the guys playing footy so I've never thought that far ahead. Obviously it's something very exciting and when the time comes I'll realise I was a part of that."
Baker had the opportunity to mix it with some Broncos' old boys during the season with Scott Prince and Michael Hancock part of the coaching staff while the recently retired Jack Reed also gave some advice.
But perhaps the most awe-inspiring moment was her first interaction with supercoach Wayne Bennett.
"Our main guys were Michael Hancock and Scotty Prince and they're invaluable those two - the coaching staff were just amazing," Baker said.
"(Bennett) came in right at the start of our campaign and going back seven weeks I don't exactly remember what he said but I remember we were all sitting there very starstruck just glued to his eyes and the way he spoke.
"It was really good for him to come in which brought about the real feeling of it all that we are actually here and we are actually at the Broncos."
Baker said her impressive Premiership ring rivalled her wedding ring and would be kept in a "very safe spot".
"I had it on for two days... It's a bit big and a bit heavy to be wearing all the time," she said.