Studdon states case to retain NSW No.7 jumper

Margie McDonald

Maddie Studdon might retain her NSW Blues halfback jersey after a triumphant Harvey Norman Women's National Championships where she led NSW City to the trophy for the first time.

Her confident command of the team over all three games for City was certainly noticed by coach Steve Kelly after she struggled for form with the Roosters in the NRLW last season.

Studdon captained the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Origin team to a 16-10 win over Queensland in the inaugural Holden Women’s State of Origin last June but there were other contenders emerging for the No.7 jersey on June 21 this year.

However, Studdon co-captained NSW City and directed proceedings with aplomb. She even scored a fine solo try in the 34-4 grand final win over NSW Country on Sunday at Burleigh Heads' Pizzey Park.

"For me, watching Maddie Studdon was probably the best football I've seen her play in 18 months," Kelly said.

"If the Origin selectors weren't looking at her, they definitely would be right now.

"She's had a few negative things go on, and a few things to have to deal with in regards to her football. But I believe in Maddie.

"On Sunday (grand final) she showed what she can do today in leading a team. And that great captain's try there was the sealing there for her."

It was all witnessed by Blues coach Andrew Patmore, who now has to shuffle through his notes from the City-Country game, as well as some of the NSW stars in the Combined Affiliated States (CAS) and Australian Defence Force (ADF) sides.

But he acknowledged the swing upwards in Studdon's football, especially against Country.

"She was outstanding today,” Patmore said.

“She showed, with the support around her, she wanted to run the ball, she organised the field. She really wanted to stand up today and she did.

"You could see her growing in confidence. She is certainly in the mix."

For Patmore, the lopsided result by NSW City has posed one or two dilemmas before he announces his team later this week.

"For a few positions we will have a good rethink on a couple,” he said.

“But we're pretty much 80% settled on the team.

"Today did throw up a few questions. I'll sleep on it, watch the video again in the morning, and then I'll submit a team (to the NSWRL board) tomorrow, which has to be ratified.

"From edges to centres to wingers I think we're outstanding. There's an amazing show of athletic ability when we get the ball out to our edges, which is great.

"The couple of questions are in the middle and again, it's experience versus youth.

"You've got to open opportunities up for the new girls. If they're working hard and playing good – and better – footy then they've got to get those spots."

While there might be debate about the forwards, Patmore has no confusion about who will be replacing fullback Sam Bremner, who is having a baby – Cronulla's Corban McGregor.

"She's world standard,” Patmore said.

“She can handle any competition, any game. I reckon she could play against the boys in the 20s level.

"She's a natural and gifted athlete – when she runs it's beautiful to watch.

"She is a quality player. She's a shoe-in."