A core group of players returning for the 2022 edition of the Women’s Origin Under 19s game has given Harvey Norman NSW coach Blake Cavallaro some underlying confidence for back-to-back victories over Queensland.
Cavallaro led the Under 19s women to a successful 16-12 win at Sunshine Coast Stadium a year ago and would like that effort to be repeated at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday night.
So often in age-group teams, players move on the next season when they outgrow a certain division.
But Cavallaro has been able to keep five from the 2021 team: Rueben Cherrington, Tayla Montgomery, Andie Robinson, Casey Tohi-Hiku and Chantel Tugaga.
“I just tried to make sure I had some combos from last year – so I was lucky to have a couple of girls in key positions that could return,” he said.
“Then I used the (Gold Coast) National Championships to get some good players around those key ones.
“Overall I feel we’ve got a good balanced team even though we’ve only got five returning from 2021.
“I’ve got Reuben returning at hooker and Tayla Montgomery at halfback, so I’ve got my No.9 and No.7 back together. They touch the ball the most, so a lot of the footy will come around them.
“I’m looking forward to them once again performing on the big stage.”
Handling will be key in the opening 20 minutes, he said.
“Completing is one of the biggest things in the women’s game – getting through your sets well and finishing them well.
“Dewy conditions on a Sydney winter’s night might affect that so we’ve talked to the players about that.”
Coaching a team to an Origin win is one thing – defending the win is another.
“Tough one in deciding which is harder to do… a bit of both I think,” he said.
“Definitely you come back and get all your processes right like you did the year before and that helps.
“If that happens we should be fine to secure another win for the Blues.
“The biggest thing for me last year was to make sure the players stay connected throughout the week both on and off the field.
“I felt last year we had an extremely good connection between our players and our staff.
“That part of your preparation is extremely important – goes hand in hand with a good game plan.”
The Women’s State of Origin Under 19s between NSW and QLD kick-off is 5.45pm on Thursday.