After a year’s absence from the Origin arena due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Under 19s are back in camp and bubbling with enthusiasm to retain their Origin trophy.
Coach Blake Cavallaro says it’s not lost on his team that they are the reigning champions – even if that title was won two years ago at North Sydney Oval.
The 2020 Qld v NSW Women’s Under 19s Origin was cancelled due to the biosecurity restrictions last year. The 2021 match is the curtain-raiser on June 25 for the Ampol Women’s State of Origin.
The 18 players named in the NSW side following the Harvey Norman National Championships at Redcliffe in May arrived at NSWRL headquarters at Sydney Olympic Park today to receive their kit and begin training.
“They are excited to represent their state, even more excited to bring that trophy home again,” Cavallaro said.
“They’ve been preparing themselves for four weeks since we named the team, and now they get to pull on that NSW jersey.”
Cavallaro has nine players from the NSW City and nine from the NSW Country sides from the Nationals.
“It’s a really good balance,” he said.
“A lot of these girls played up in Nationals a few weeks ago, so we’ve got some good combinations already. A lot of them play club footy together too.”
Fullback Jamie Chapman and winger Teegan Berry were part of the winning 2019 Under 19s side.
“There’s a lot of experience with those two and a lot of girls have been part of the NSWRL Tarsha Gale program for a while – into their third year with the change in age from 18s to 19s,” he said.
“But even more importantly about 50% of this team is playing in the Harvey Norman club competition so they’re playing at the elite level already. They bring those skill sets to us.”
Chapman, from the Tweed Seagulls, has been named captain.
“Jamie leads by example and has already played three NRLW games (Dragons),” Cavallaro said.
“Her talk at the back is very influential in how we want to play.”
Two vice-captains were also named today - Tayla Montgomery (Indigenous Academy Sydney Roosters) and Rueben Cherrington (St George Dragons).
“These two girls – one represented City and one represented Country at the Nationals – and I felt that watching them throughout that week they were such really good leaders,” Cavallaro said.
“So having the No.1, No.9 and No.7 as our leadership group will be really beneficial, especially on the field when we need them to lead by example with their chat as well as their football.”
The Queenslanders will not be easy after the Rubys and the Sapphires beat NSW City and Country teams in close contests to reach the Grand Final at the Nationals.
“We will focus on some key individuals in the Queensland side but more emphasis will be on us, and what kind of footy we want to play,” Cavallaro said.