Side-by-side at the heart of the NSW Women’s Interstate Challenge team’s push for state success earlier this year, Maddie Studdon and Caitlin Moran will go head-to-head this Sunday (24 September) in the inaugural Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership Grand Final.
While the pair’s combination was instrumental in the Blues’ 22-6 win over the Queensland Women in July, their tight-knit bond will be put on hold when they meet at Leichhardt Oval; when the Redfern All Blacks and North Newcastle square-off in the historic Women’s decider.
Earning the mantle of the competition’s Player of the Year, Moran will be a woman heavily marked come Sunday’s finale – Fleet of foot and heralding from a touch football upbringing, Studdon says there’s an ‘organised madness’ in what the 20-year-old produces.
“Away from the field, she’s quite funny and has a different kind of personality to a lot of the other girls, she’s a character, and it’s always good to share time with her in the New South Wales camps,” Studdon tells NSWRL.com.au.
“Coming up against Caitlin, she’s a very talented player. It’s sometimes hard to read what she’s going to do, because a lot of the time I don’t think she knows herself what she’s going to do next.
“Having Caitlin, and the likes of (NSW Women’s Interstate Challenge players) Isabelle Kelly and Bec Young outside her, they’re going to put up a big challenge for us.”
Deemed unavailable for selection for the Australian Jillaroos in their clash with the PNG Orchids in Papua New Guinea, Studdon and Moran forgo their would-be international duties in the hopes of guiding their respective club sides to a dream title.
While disappointed to not be lining up alongside Moran and her regular Jillaroos teammates at the weekend, Studdon says her focus is solely that of leading the All Blacks to a maiden premiership on Sunday.
“It is a little bit bitter-sweet seeing the girls go in to camp, but it’s a great opportunity for the other girls to go over there and to show what they can do ahead of the World Cup later in the year,” Studdon says.
“It’s always a shame when you miss out playing for Australia in one way or another, but at the end of the day, club football is where it all starts.
“The Redfern girls and their club have welcomed me with open arms, and I can’t be thankful enough for that. It feels like a family out there, to go out there and to win a grand final with them, it will mean a lot.
“They’ve never been to the grand final before, to win one with these girls who have all worked very hard throughout the year, it’d be one of my proudest moments.”
Winning through to the competition’s decider on the back of an impressive 42-0 Semi Final thumping of the Glenmore Park Brumbies, Studdon and the All Blacks have enjoyed a week’s rest leading into Sunday’s grand final.
The lay-off was the second inside three weeks for the Redfern side, who as Minor Premiers, earned an automatic passage through to Week Two of the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership Finals series.
“It’s been good for us to have those breaks, we’ve come together as a team, the girls have really used that time to bond and to gel coming into the grand final,” Studdon says.
“A few of our forwards were a bit roughed up (after the Glenmore Park match), so it’s been a good break for them.
“We’re ready to go, no question about it. We’ve all been pretty fiery and excited at training, we just can’t wait for Sunday.”
The NSWRL senior competitions’ finals series, covered like never before on NSWRL.com.au and the NSWRL Facebook page, culminate on Grand Final Day at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday 24 September. Be there to witness history, with tickets just $10 for adults and children under 12 free.