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NSWRL launches 2023 season with makeshift football field

The NSWRL Centre of Excellence was today transformed into a Rugby League field for the launch of the 2023 NSWRL season with Westpac NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler, Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder and captain Kezie Apps all in attendance.

Fittler, Hilder and Apps were joined by players from NSWRL Major Competitions including the state’s premier men’s and women’s competitions, The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup and Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, for a breakfast at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence at Sydney Olympic Park.

The changes for the 2023 season include the Sydney Roosters and the Warriors returning to The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup; Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, St George Dragons and Illawarra Steelers joining the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership; and Leagues Clubs Australia coming on board as the naming rights partner for the Ron Massey Cup.

The Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership and Junior Representatives competitions started on Saturday 4 February; while premiers Penrith Panthers will have the honour of kicking off The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup when they host North Sydney Bears on Friday 3 March at BlueBet Stadium.

“The start of NSWRL Major Competitions is always exciting as it’s a sign that Rugby League is back in full swing,” NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said.

“There has already been plenty of great action from the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership and our Junior Representatives competitions and the list of highlights will grow even more now.

“The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, and the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, are important pathways to higher honours in our game and there have been plenty of graduates who have gone on to forge successful Rugby League careers.

“The NSWRL is also enjoying strong support off the field with Leagues Clubs Australia coming on board as the naming rights partner for the esteemed Ron Massey Cup. This is an extension of the partnership the NSWRL started last season with Licensed Club Round to acknowledge the vital financial support that is provided to all Rugby League clubs.

“The 2022 season proved to be memorable after the Penrith Panthers created history by winning premierships in four grades and I’m looking forward to the great stories that will unfold again across all NSWRL competitions this season.”

The NSWRL has had a long-standing association with Transport for NSW to deliver positive messages about road safety. The partnership was extended two years ago with Transport for NSW taking on the naming rights for the state’s premier competition to become The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup.

The partnership includes the Regional Roadshow where True Blues travel around regional NSW and provide presentations to communities on reducing road deaths and serious injuries on NSW roads.

The Grand Final rematch of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup between the Penrith Panthers and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be played in Round 16 at Belmore Sports Ground in June.

There will also be a Magic Round with 12 teams playing in two venues over two days in May. Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles v St George Illawarra Dragons, North Sydney Bears v Warriors and Parramatta Eels v Western Suburbs Magpies will play at North Sydney Oval on Saturday 6 May; while South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Canberra Raiders and Newtown Jets v Penrith Panthers will play at Redfern Oval on Sunday 7 May.

The Roosters will field a team under their own colours in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup for the first time since 2005. The club has won nine premierships in the competition with their last title coming in the 2004 Grand Final.

The Warriors will also return to The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup for the first time since 2020. Although they have not won a NSW Cup premiership, they have been regular top-eight finishers and made the Preliminary Final in 2017 where they lost narrowly to Wyong Roos.

The Jersey Flegg Cup, which is the state’s Under 21s competition that helps produce NRL and NSW Cup players, will have their Grand Final rematch between premiers Penrith Panthers and the Newcastle Knights in Round Seven at McDonald Jones Stadium in April.

The Leagues Clubs Australia Ron Massey Cup, which starts on Saturday 18 March, will feature nine teams in 2023 with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs joining the competition. The Kaiviti Silktails will split their matches between Fiji and Sydney after having spent the past two seasons based at Mascot due to the COVID pandemic.

The Sydney Shield, which kicks off on Saturday 18 March, will expand to nine teams in 2023 with Mounties and Cabramatta joining the competition for clubs from across the Sydney metropolitan area.

The Men’s Country Championships for open-age players from across regional NSW has reverted to a knockout competition. It will involve 10 academies with games kicking off on Saturday 4 March.

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.

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