The likes of Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Origin stars Maddie Studdon, Corban McGregor along with Jillaroo Keeley Davis will go head-to-head with Origin representatives Shaylee Bent and Nakia-Davis Welsh when the undefeated Cronulla Sharks take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Cronulla High School tomorrow.
The Sharks will be fresh of a bye week, while the Rabbitohs will look to back up their maiden 14-4 win over Wentworthville last weekend and former NRL player and Souths coach Dean Widders is looking forward to the challenge after a pleasing team effort in Round Three.
“Last week I was really proud of the girls because they turned it around quickly and that win was just working really hard for each other, being patient, sticking to the plan and grinding it all out which is something we’ve been aiming to do as a team, instead of relying on our flashes of brilliance and skill, we were able to work hard to get the win,” Widders said.
“It’s a massive challenge for us against the Sharks this week, they’ve got some of the best players in the game in key positions and some of our players in those positions are working hard to get to that level and as a coach I’m looking forward to seeing our girls go up against them.
“This is a real one where we’ll see where we’re at, we’ll learn a lot from it whichever way it goes and I think there’s a lot for us to gain out of it.”
The Rabbitohs have this year signed Dragons NRLW, Indigenous All Stars and Australian representative Shaylee Bent, and her young sister and Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Under-18s player Janaya and boast fire-power in Origin representative and Jillaroo Nakia-Davis Welsh and Widders believes their experience gives the other players added confidence.
“Shaylee’s been excellent, she’s got a great attitude, she’s fitted in really well, she’s a future captain of any club at a high level and I think she’ll be a future captain at representative level,” Widders said.
“We’re still trying to improve her as a player as well and look at things she’s doing and how she can grow.
“I’ve also been really impressed with her younger sister Janaya, she’s got a massive future in the game.
“And then the likes of Taleena and Nakia give our girls confidence, they’re people who have been at the top and have an understanding of the game and have real high skill levels, so we’ve got that around us.”
Widders has been focusing on individual player development and has been impressed by some of the younger player's work ethic – something he is trying to build back up at the club again after they finished in ninth place last season.
“The big thing for me though is seeing the improvement of girls like Ellie Johnston, Sarah Field is another one who is doing amazing and Monique Donovan and Tahlia Hunter are really doing well at the moment – I think there’s big things ahead for those girls,” Widders said.
“It all comes down to Ellie’s hard work - she plays full games in the front row, you never hear her tiring or complaining or looking for a break, she just knuckles down and keeps doing the work but she’s like that at training.
“She’s at every training session 45 minutes early, she does her extras, she’s such a positive influence on the team and she’s one of the ones we’re hoping to build this club around in the future.
“We’re going to keep trying to improve everyone as an individual in their technique but also just making sure that we’re making Souths a club that people know that they’re going to improve their footy with their work ethic.
“We’re just taking the approach that we’re going to continue to work hard and encourage each other, be spirited and work on the little things and hopefully that will get us wins in these games but we’re not really concentrating on outcomes and ladders or any of that.”
Elsewhere, the Wests Tigers will look to force their way back into finals contention, since suffering a loss to the Central Coast Roosters last week, when they face the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs at Hammondville Oval tomorrow.
The North Sydney Bears and the Wentworthville Magpies will also face off at North Sydney Oval at 12:30pm on Saturday, where the Bears will be keen to re-enter the winners circle after a narrow loss to the Bulldogs in Round Three and Wentworthville will be searching for their first win of the season.
Keep up to date with all of the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership Draw and Results by clicking here.