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Parramatta forward Ellie Johnston often gets people confusing her with Knights counterpart Caitlan Johnston, who she knows holds the key in Sunday's NRLW grand final at Accor Stadium. 

After all, the pair do share the same surname, are the same age and were born in the Hunter and North Coast regions, but as far as Ellie knows, they're not related.

"When Caitlan was playing Origin, people were messaging me saying ‘oh my god, great game Ellie!’ and I was like ‘sorry mate, I am Ellie Johnston and that’s Caitlan Johnston’," Ellie told this week.

"She's an awesome player. I have played NSW Country with her, that’s about it. She created a lot of the impact for the Knights.

"I think it’s a good chance to play against some of those girls like Caitlan, Millie Boyle and Tayla Predebon. We have done it before and I thought we held them pretty good in the round games, and I think we can go even better."

The difference in rugby league journey's for both Johnstons couldn't be further apart. 

Caitlan has been playing since she was 11 while Ellie only took up the game in 2018 after previously representing Australia in netball and playing a couple of seasons of rugby union.

Ellie too strong close to the line

However, both share the same work ethic with fitness for both players key to their impact. 

"Obviously fitness and the speed of the game is such a big thing at the moment, but when I am tackling or when I am running, I need to use my size," Ellie said.

"I've got to use it, because it helps with what I can do out there."

Caitlan has shown she's more than got the aggressive side of her game covered, something Ellie has been working on with Eels coach Dean Widders.

"I think I am getting better with that, and I think it’s just going to come with more time playing as well," she said.

"It doesn’t just come [naturally], I am still new to the game as well, I am only 21 and haven’t played a lot of footy, especially COVID."

Widders, who has coached Caitlan Johnston in the Indigenous All Stars set-up, said the pair were on different paths but both present plenty of promise.

"Caitlan grew up around footy and has a footy brain on her and I think the more experience Ellie gets around this level of play she can match that," Widders said.

"She's getting there and understands her role. I think it's confidence too, you can see it starting to come through with the way she's playing.

"She's more aggressive and looking to take people on. That will be really dangerous for her, in a good way, as she progresses in the game."

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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