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Wests Tigers snare Sky Blues stars for 2022

Wests Tigers coach Ryan Powell has a nice dilemma on his hands, when he comes around to naming his captain for the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership season next year.

Current Wests Tigers skipper Botille Vette-Welsh will now be joined by Helensburgh Tigers recruit Kezie Apps, who is switching from the Illawarra-based club for 2022.

Another new recruit from Helensburgh will be the 2019 Dally M Women’s ‘Player of the Year’ Jess Sergis (Apps was the 2016 Dally M Medallist).

All three women have been teammates for the past three years as members of the Harvey Norman Jillaroos national side and the Sky Blues Origin team, but have never been clubmates.

Another selection headache for Powell will be the No.1 jersey, which Vette-Welsh owns for NSW, the Wests Tigers and the Maori All Stars.

But Sergis excelled at fullback for the Helensburgh Tigers in 2021 – scoring 17 tries in 10 games, despite the competition being suspended after Round 15 due to COVID-19 and then cancelled.

The choice could be made easier with Wests Tigers five-eighth and Kiwi Ferns player Raecene McGregor moving to North Sydney, along with her sister Page McGregor.

This would allow Vette-Welsh to move into the No.6 jersey. Or Sergis could again capably fill the centre role which is her go-to position in the NSW side.

A third fullback coming into calculations could be Under 19s No.1 Jess Kennedy, who captained the Wests Tigers Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale team this season and made her Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership debut in May.

Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe welcomed the new signings and said he was excited by the continued progress being made by the club’s women’s program.

“On behalf of all at Wests Tigers, I’d like to welcome Kezie and Jess to the club and say how excited we are to have them on board this year,” Pascoe told the club’s website weststigers.com.au.

“They are both world-class players who have performed at the highest levels in the game and will certainly add a great deal of experience, talent and professionalism to our team.

Pascoe and the Wests Tigers board are keen to field a NRLW side by 2023.

“As a club, we’re really excited by the direction and the progress that has been made throughout our women’s pathways program as we strive for an NRLW licence in 2023,” he said.

The Wests Tigers HN Premiership trio will begin initial pre-season training in the coming weeks. Then under a revised women’s program for 2022 – due to the COVID disruptions in 2021 – the NRLW will be played February through to April.

Apps is contracted to the St George Illawarra Dragons, Sergis has moved to the Sydney Roosters, and Vette-Welsh is off to new club in the expanded 2022 competition, the Parramatta Eels.

The three players return to the Wests Tigers in April for the NSWRL club competition.