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Origin stars sign up for NSW Wheelchair Rugby League season

The stars of the 2021 NSW Wheelchair Rugby League season – like Player of the Year Brad Grove (Canberra Raiders) and top points scorer Cory Cannane (St George Illawarra Dragons) – are back in action this weekend when the new competition kicks off for 2022.

Alongside those players the NSW Blues co-captain Jason Attard, who was named Parramatta Eels player of the season last year, and Raiders MVP for 2021 and fellow NSW player, Diab Karim, have also signed on for another year.

Every Sunday from 20 February for the next six weeks, the NSW Wheelchair Rugby League matches will be played at the Menai Indoor Sports Centre in  Sydney's south. Two weeks of finals will follow.

The League has 60 registered players divided into Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams, all playing at the same venue, and all supported by seven NRL clubs: St George Illawarra Dragons, Wests Tigers, Parramatta Eels, Cronulla Sharks, Penrith Panthers, Canterbury Bulldogs, and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.

The Dragons are the reigning Tier 1 premiers, while the Sea Eagles won the Tier 2 grand final.

Following the club season, the annual City-Country match will be played on 15 May in Sydney, which will decide the 10-strong NSW team for this year’s Wheelchair State of Origin clash in June.

The postponed 2021 game – which could not be played last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic – was held at the Whitlam Leisure Centre in Liverpool in January. Queensland upset NSW 50-30 in a commanding nine tries to five victory.

Blues coach Edie George says he’s still not over the loss.

“But that’s good in a way as it keeps fuelling our fire for this year’s Origin,” George told nswrl.com.

The match was live streamed by NSWRL TV, which George said brought in a whole gamut of new fans for the wheelchair version of Rugby League.

“There’s a lot of momentum heading into the club season off the back of that game and the way the NSW guys put it all out there on the court against the Maroons,” George said.

“We’re starting to get good depth in all our clubs with more Tier 2 players moving up into Tier 1 and others coming into the sport. We had a ‘Come and Try’ day last weekend and had eight new players want to sign up.”

Following the mid-season Origin game, the Australian ‘Wheelaroos’ side will be finalised for the 2022 World Cup being played alongside the Kangaroos and Jillaroos in England in November.

There are five players per side on court at a time, another five on the bench, with each team allowed two AB (able-bodied) players making Wheelchair Rugby League one of the most inclusive sports around.

It’s two 40-minute halves, and the same points scoring as the running game. The ‘field of play’ is 50-metres in length and 25-metres wide, across three indoor basketball courts.

Rules are similar – players must pass backwards, possession changes after six tackles. A ‘tackle’ is made by ripping off the Velcro shoulder tag of an opposition player, similar to Monarch Blues Tag.

Kicks downfield, conversions, penalties and field goals are hand-punted over the crossbar. A play-the-ball is made by tapping the football on the ground before passing.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR NSW WHEELCHAIR RUGBY LEAGUE

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.