The Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership has had a shake-up to its finals schedule, due to the fresh COVID-19 outbreaks in Sydney, but Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Origin star Simaima Taufa says the competition doesn’t lose its integrity in any way.
Six teams were due to begin the finals race this weekend (3-4 July) but following the two-week lockdown for Greater Sydney that has now been replaced by a top-four format starting on the weekend of 17-18 July with the Grand Final on Saturday 24 July.
The top-four sides at the end of the 15-round club competition, which wound up on June 19-20, will now progress to the semis with Central Coast Roosters (1) taking on Helensburgh Tigers (4), while Mounties (2) meet Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (3).
The decision was made in consultation with the NRL to ensure the workload for women players was managed appropriately before the NRLW starts in late-August. Players competing in the finals for the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership will train on Thursday and Friday with their teams while Monday to Wednesday will be reserved for their NRLW clubs.
Taufa, who plays lock for Mounties in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership and now the Parramatta Eels in the NRLW, said it was disappointing that some teams had to miss out but there were bigger issues at play.
“With the lockdown we’re all more mindful of everyone’s health and safety,” Taufu said. “I initially thought the whole competition might be cancelled.
“It’s still very unfortunate that circumstances have forced St Marys and Wests Tigers out of the finals but in saying that, the top-four deserve to be there and there’s still good footy to be played.
“Those two clubs still need to be congratulated for what they’re doing with their women’s programs. They finished top-six in a strong 11-team comp. I’m just sorry how it unfolded for them.”
Taufa made 12 runs and 104 metres in her 50 minutes at prop for the Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues in Origin last week so she’s enjoying a little more rest before her next match.
She doesn’t believe the NSW Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership is in any way compromised by the shift to four finals teams.
“The Central Coast Roosters are still the minor premiers, the best team about 15 rounds, same goes for the teams who finished second, third and fourth,” she said.
“Every pre-season we all work hard at training to be the best, to get to that top spot. So as competitive as the sport is you still need to get a top-four spot to show you’ve been among the best throughout the whole season.
“It’s just good to see that we got 11 teams showcasing good football this year. And the top-four is the top-four for a reason.”
From 12 July, players can start training with their NRLW teams, ahead of the season starting late August. Those involved in the NSW Harvey Norman Women’s finals will juggle two clubs.
Taufa has left the Roosters to sign with the Eels – one of the three new teams for 2021. She will train with her new teammates as well as her Mounties commitments.