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Hilder wants Women's Origin back in NSW

Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues head coach Kylie Hilder wants the 2022 State of Origin to return to NSW and utilise a larger venue to reflect the popularity of the women’s game.

There’s a universal feeling, not just among Sky Blues supporters, that the game has outgrown North Sydney Oval – the 2018-19 hosts – and could easily draw a big crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, CommBank Stadium in Parramatta, or another NRL home ground.

A venue for the women’s Ampol State of Origin on Friday 24 June is still yet to be announced by the NRL.

From the opening four interstate games under the rebranded Origin label, two have been played in NSW (2018-19) at North Sydney and two in Queensland (2020-21) at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

Hilder makes no apologies for wanting the match to return to NSW in 2022.

“I definitely would love to have it back in NSW next year after playing it for the past two years in Queensland,” she said.

“It’s our turn to have it again before our home fans.”

The NSWRL announced earlier this year that female registrations had reached 20,000 for the first time in the association’s history.

Hilder believes that level of participation means great support for the women’s game.

It will be a hectic season for Hilder and the Sky Blues players, alongside the NSW Under 19s as well – many of whom play in the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup and Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership.

Add in two NRLW seasons, and a Country-City game, all makes Hilder acutely aware of player burnout next year.

She has been in discussions with officials at NSWRL, coaches and staff at various clubs, and even players themselves as she plots a course through a hectic year, which is back-ended by the World Cup.

The opening NRLW season – postponed from 2021 – starts on February 27 with the Grand Final on April 10. The HN Women’s Premiership begins in April and runs through to August.

Wedged in between those two competitions will be the City-Country match on May 14 followed by the Origin match in June.

“I’d be foolish not to be a bit concerned,” Hilder told nswrl.com

“But we’re putting some things in place to try to help everyone and assist the girls with their workloads, especially through the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership.

“We’ll be taking an invested interest in the top-25 girls we select with Origin in mind, after that first NRLW season. It will be like an Origin pathways squad.

“But we will monitor and keep an eye on all the girls in that squad with one aim in mind – to control their workloads and help them manage the physical demands of this busy period.”

One option is to rest the players Hilder earmarks as Origin certainties from the Country-City game.

“It will still be an Origin selection trial as we will have spots on the roster we need to fill,” Hilder said.

Incumbent Harvey Norman Sky Blues halfback and former Origin skipper Maddie Studdon said individuals had to carefully monitor how they treated their bodies in managing workloads.

“Girls have been in hard training already,” Studdon said. “I’ve had a case of shin splints already so I’m having to watch carefully what I’m doing.

“It’s just being mindful of all that and being sensible as you build on your training. It’s going to be constant footy throughout next year, so recovery is going to be crucial.”