Western has enough female rugby league talent to produce a Jillaroo, or two.
That’s the view of Orange Hawks women’s nines coach Jordan Dwyer after the National Rugby League’s announcement of an extended women’s program in 2018.
The bumper fixtures list features a NRL Women’s Premiership, a stand-alone State of Origin match, a National Championship and more Jillaroos international matches.
And the pathway from the bush to those games is clearer than ever.
A NSW Country side will compete in the National Championship, with Western to send its best to a 13-a-side gala day in February which doubles as a country selection trial.
Dwyer expected a number of Hawks girls, who took out Western’s inaugural competitive nines carnival, and other players out of the Western Rams area to put their hands up for country selection.
And, from there, potentially launch a bid for a Jillaroos jumper.
“I think the biggest thing is it’s not fully-fledged professional so there’s no gap,” Dwyer said of the pathway to the top, with many of the Jillaroos still not professional players.
“If you work hard the rewards will come.”
Dwyer said he was impressed by the standard of play during the women’s World Cup final last week, but admitted there’s similar talent in this area.
... there’s no reason Hawks girls or Western girls can't succeed as well.Hawks coach Jordan Dwyer
The likes of Wellington’s Rhianna Sutherland – the sister of Sydney Roosters star Blake Ferguson – Hawks pair Ella-J Harris and Bec Ford, Blayney’s Sophie Stammers, St Pat’s speedster Meredith Jones and Dubbo CYMS gun Majayda Darcy all showed flashes of brilliance in the Western tournament.
“(The World Cup), it’s a step up,” Dwyer concedes.
“But with some specialised training and getting in the system those elite girls are in, there’s no reason Hawks girls or Western girls can’t succeed as well.”
Dwyer viewed league tag as a “saving grace of sorts” for rugby league competitions in the bush, with the increased participation reviving many clubs in the country.
He says there will always remain a place for league tag in bush competitions.
But he’s confident the tackle game will continue to grow, in Western at the very least, as well.
He’s part of a sub-committee of people charged with helping foster the contact version of the sport for women in Western.
“Fingers crossed Group 10 and Group 11 jump on board,” he said.
“I know the Hawks girls are keen to try and get a few games in the season next year if others keen for tackle. We’re trying to implement a few more games.
“Those things take time. We’ll see how it pans out.”