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Studdon moves to mentor rising stars

The chance to mentor younger players at the NRLW’s newest franchise, Parramatta Eels, was one of the driving forces for Harvey Norman Sky Blues halfback Maddie Studdon to switch clubs.

A chat with Eels coach Dean Widders about her role in the team convinced her to start afresh after two seasons with St George Illawarra and a brief stint at the Sydney Roosters.

“I was obviously talking to the Dragons, along with the Knights and the Eels, but I was impressed with Dean and his vision,” Studdon told nswrl.com.au.

“He’s signed a couple of young girls at the club, and in the halves as well, so he wanted an experienced half to work alongside them. And I love to help in that way too.

“Dean said he was impressed with how I played this year and thought I would be a really good fit for a brand new team.”

Widders told the Eels website: "Maddie will be an asset to our team and a leader both on and off the field.

"Our women’s team is a positive influence on aspiring female players in the western Sydney region who are looking for a pathway into the NRLW."

The Eels, Knights, and the Titans are the three new clubs for the 2022 NRLW season joining foundation teams the Broncos, Roosters and Dragons.

Studdon will link with Sky Blues teammates Tiana Penitani, Botille Vette-Welsh, Simaima Taufu, Kennedy Cherrington and Filomani Hanisi at the Eels.

“I’m excited to see some of us older heads combine with the younger talent,” she said.

“I think it will be fantastic.”

Studdon will play two NRLW seasons (February-March; August September) with the Eels this year, to make up for the loss of the 2021 season to COVID-19.

Parramatta will play Newcastle in the opening round of the rescheduled NRLW season on February 27 at the Knights home ground, McDonald Jones Stadium

In April she will re-join her Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership team, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, for the NSWRL club competition.

“The Sharks have been awesome so I’m not moving anywhere else,” she said.

“We’ve already started pre-season training at Cronulla… getting some Ks (kilometres) into the legs and just getting familiar with our routines again.

“I will go across to the Eels in January. It’s a full-on year this year but what a great way to show everyone how good the women’s game is.”