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Kylie's Korner: Sky Blues coach points out who to watch this weekend

Welcome to a new column for the 2023 Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership and Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup competitions, where Sky Blues Origin coach Kylie Hilder will point out a few players and games to keep an eye on each week.

Round Two – 11-12 February

Firstly, it was great to see new teams entering our women’s competitions – Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs and Illawarra Steelers in NSW Women’s Premiership and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Tarsha Gale Cup – enjoy wins in their first rounds.

Player to Watch

Tess Staines will be fullback for the Wests Tigers in their game against the St George Dragons on Saturday, after she was named last week but didn’t play.

Staines could give the Tigers that nudge to get them over the line following their 30-18 loss to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks last weekend, despite leading 12-10 at halftime and 18-16 at the 55th minute.

I feel fullback is Staines’ best position because she can run freely. We’ve only seen her play wing.

I’ve been watching her develop after first identifying her in the Riverina at our Country Championships, so I’m excited to see her in her second year of Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership but in that No.1 jersey.

Halfback Emily Curtain, who was the hero of last year’s Grand Final with her golden point field goal to beat the Sharks, returns from serious injury to take her place in the Wests Tigers side.

Another new team, the Dragons, played solidly for the first 25 minutes against the Bulldogs before Canterbury got over the top of them scoring eight second-half tries for a 55-4 win.

I thought their captain and front rower Georgie Brooker was a stand-out for the Dragons.

Match of the Round

The North Sydney Bears take on the Sharks on Saturday after both clubs enjoyed wins to start the new season.

This for me is the match of the round as it will be a great tussle in the forwards, particular as Sky Blues Vanessa Foliaki and Sarah Togatuki are linking for the Bears in the back row for the first time this year.

But Sharks’ young second rower Tayla Curtis scored a try and set up another in their win over the Tigers. So the two No.12s up against each other is intriguing with the older, experienced head of Foliaki against the rising newcomer.

Both teams have a couple of young No.6s in Luisa Yaranamua (Bears) and Zali Hopkins (Sharks) paired with some experienced No.7s in Nita Maynard (Bears) and Maddie Studdon (Sharks).

Next Generation

Two players in Tarsha Gale Cup round one action caught my eye.

Sea Eagles five-eighth Aaliyah Haumono played a great halves’ role during their 16-12 win over the Wests Tigers. So much so she ended up scoring the match-winning try in the 56th minute.

Newcastle fullback Lilly-Ann White was key to the Knights 20-14 win over the Bears. She did everything right and was where she needed to be.

Her strong carries meant she was a threat every time she touched the ball.

The full schedule of round two matches in Women’s Premiership and Tarsha Gale Cup are available on

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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.

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