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Lisa Fiaola in awe of female game talent pool

The changes and growth of the women’s game have impressed dual international Lisa Fiaola greatly, but not enough to want to get back on the field.

“Definitely not today looking at the size and skills of some of those girls,” she told after watching the Grand Final of the NSWRL Under-17s girls competition named in her honour – the Westpac Lisa Fiaola Cup.

“They would just run over the top of me. The girls are so mobile and athletic these days.

“And they’ve only been in the game one or two years. You wait until they really get into the mechanics of the women’s game and start moving up the ranks.

“Imagine what two or more seasons will do. They are the stars of tomorrow.”

Canterbury-Bankstown enjoyed a 36-0 win over Wests Tigers in the Lisa Fiaola Cup decider, which was the icing on the cake for a successful first season of Under-17s.

The Westpac Tarsha Gale Cup for Under-19s is into its eighth year with the Illawarra Steelers subduing a talented Newcastle Knights side 34-12.

Both Gale and Fiaola were present (third from left above. Photo: Brendon Grant) on Junior Representatives Grand Final day at CommBank Stadium on 27 April to present the Player of the Series and Player of the Match awards.

Later Fiaola reflected on her time in Rugby League after switching from rugby in the mid-to-late 2000s.

“It was so hard even at club level, just to get a team together,” she said.

“We didn’t get the support and I suppose respect that there is today for the girls.

“Seeing these Under-17s and Under-19s pathways competitions is something I never really thought would happen, and so quickly – seven years or so.

“It warms my heart that the girls now can play in great stadiums with atmosphere, with all the support and getting all the accolades they deserve now.

“It is awesome to see them not only come up through all the levels, but have an understanding of what they can achieve.

“They see so many more women’s games on television – the All Stars, NRLW, Origin, the Jillaroos – and all that has really lifted the bar.

“A lot of girls can now have female players as role models and mentors.”

Fiaola has been that already for many current players. It was one of the reasons NSWRL Head of Competitions Yvette Downey rang Fiaola to tell her the new Under-17s competition starting in 2024 would be named after her.

“I thought it was a bit of a gee-up at first. Yvette rang me and it meant a lot coming from her because she’s been around since day one with the pathways,” Fiaola said.

“As much as it is something I feel really humble about, I also recognise that a lot of other people need to be acknowledged and Yvette Downey is one of those.”

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