NSW City coach Steve Kelly has limited time to pull his 2019 side together for the Harvey Norman Women's National Championships on the Gold Coast next week, but he's not a worried man.
He put a 24-woman squad through their paces at the NSWRL high-performance centre at Homebush Bay on Sunday before the side leaves on Wednesday for the six-team tournament.
It is NSW City's first and only full session before arriving in Queensland for the championships being held at Burleigh Heads' Pizzey Park. Then there will be one more session before the first game against Combined Affiliated States (CAS) on Thursday.
Kelly says his players are already game-ready due to the 12-team Harvey Norman Women's Premiership, now up to Round 11. His NSW City side has players from 10 of those teams in his squad.
"So there was a lot of good team unity today – the girls are great around each other and definitely there's a high skills level," he said.
"Every time I turn around in the women's game the skill level seems to pick up once more. So I'm really impressed with them in the way they turned up with the right attitude and ready to train, ready to play next week."
NSW City lost the final at the 2018 national championships to NSW Country. But they have two players out with pregnancies and Blues Origin star Isabelle Kelly withdrawn (knee injury).
But Kelly says that doesn't make them vulnerable.
"If you’d asked me that question two years ago I would have said 'Yes'. But now with the young guns coming through, no-one is vulnerable any more as there's always a good young player coming through ready to take your place."
Kelly had Jillaroos pair Maddie Studdon and Elianna Walton as co-captains last year but is keeping his powder dry on his 2019 leader(s) until everyone arrives in camp.
But the significance of being selected in the NSW City team was shown by the presence on Sunday of NSW Women's Origin coach Andrew Patmore, and Jillaroos assistant Jamie Feeney.
"It's part of the pathways so we get more understanding of how good these players are, where they're at in terms of being at Origin or Jillaroos level," Patmore said.
He has seen a few club bolters shine at National Championships level.
"There's a North Sydney player, 21-year-old Aliti Namoce, and she's only played league for one year," he said.
"So with around a dozen games under her belt she's already showing how extremely talented she is. While she is still learning, she's the sort of player who can make a jump to the next level.
"So there's girls here who have not played a lot of high-level, representative football but we're seeing really good things at the Harvey Norman (club) level.
"There's a bit of a changing of the guard this year," Patmore said.
"I want every girl here to believe they've got a chance of making the 2019 Origin team.
"These girls are showing good things already.
"Now it's a test to see if they can show it at the next level. That's why the National Championships are so good for us."