World Cup champion Jillaroos, including co-captain Ruan Sims, Isabelle Kelly, Maddie Studdon, Nakia Davis-Welsh, Simaima Tafa, Caitlin Moran, Lavina O’Mealey and Elianna Walton, will feature across five teams in the opening round of the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership starting tomorrow (Saturday 24 March).
Sims will line-up for Cronulla Caringbah against Penrith Brothers at the Sharks Academy Field; and Walton will play for the Bulldogs against Wentworthville at Belmore Sports Ground in the 1pm matches that will kick-off round one.
Meanwhile Davis-Welsh, Studdon and O’Mealey will line-up at Redfern Oval in the newly-branded South Sydney Rabbitohs team, who last year played under the premiership-winning Redfern All Blacks banner.
They will be up against the newly formed CRL Newcastle side that includes Kelly and Moran, as well as Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup graduate Cassie Orsmby, who won the Grand Final with the Penrith Panthers last year.
In the final match of the round, the Taufa-led Mounties will play another new addition to the competition, the North Sydney Bears, at Aubrey Keech Reserve.
The new-look competition, featuring nine teams (up from eight last year), will be run as part of the NSWRL’s major competitions program for the first time, giving the elite women’s competition the same operational benefits as the premier men’s competition, the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, with access to advanced game-day data, statistics and technology.
The competition - first founded in 2005 and expanded into its current format in 2017 - provides an elite competition for female players in NSW.
“Last season was a year of growth for the women’s game, and it will be again in 2018,” said NSWRL General Manager of Football Barrie-Jon (BJ) Mather.
“We’re seeing players progress from the Tarsha Gale Cup to the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, proving the strength of the established pathway for the women’s game in NSW.
“Female Rugby League is the fastest area of growth within the game, and NSWRL is proud to have played a role in that growth.”