• Yasmin Meakes and Simone Karpani of the Sydney Roosters are seen celebrating their NRLW Grand Final win last month. (AAP)Source: AAP
Given the number of women ready and willing to play, the NRLW is considering bringing forward the league's expansion to ten teams.
Dean Widders

10 May 2022 - 11:41 AM  UPDATED 11 May 2022 - 12:14 PM

There's a lot happening in the women's space right now.

Preparations have started for the NRLW 2022 season. I've signed on as coach for Parramatta for a second season, and we're just going through our recruitment of players now. 

There are reports this week of a fast-tracked expansion of the NRLW up to 10 teams, as those extra four teams (on top of the existing six) are ready and raring to go.

If that happens, the pool of players is going to need to grow.

Outside the traditional areas of New South Wales, Queensland and New Zealand, we need to look into the affiliated states like the Northern Territory, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia to see if we can develop some players there.

But we should also keep an eye on players from remote and rural New South Wales and Queensland.

That will come together well at the national championships this year: all the states will be there, but there's also a team representing country New South Wales, which is where a lot of our Indigenous girls are playing their football.

We also have a First Nations Gems team: Indigenous players picked from outside the traditional pathways and the elite competitions. We've got to find 20 Indigenous girls that are either coming through the ranks in the younger competitions, or that are playing local footy and give them that opportunity to be seen.

Last year, Kyra Simon from Newcastle played in the First Nations Gems team, and then picked up an NRLW contract at the end of it. So it's proven that you can make it into the big league via that alternative pathway. 

Cowboys and Cronulla ones to watch

In the NRL, the Cowboys have really consolidated their spot. 

Some of their results from the weekend show the Cowboys are on the way up. They've got a really young team and a couple of Indigenous players, Scott Drinkwater, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, and Reuben Cotter have all been outstanding.

They're contributing massively up there in North Queensland. 

Another team on the up is Cronulla: heroic in their win on the weekend. They defended for 10 minutes there with 11 players, and then played the majority of the game with 12 against the Warriors.

They didn't concede a line break when they were down to 11 players. It just shows that Cronulla have got the real hunger and the work ethic about everything that they do.

That's something Craig Fitzgibbons has brought into a talented bunch of players, and Nico Heinz's leadership just keeps getting better and better every week.

A shout out as well to Parramatta for their win over Penrith, breaking their winning streak out there. Penrith have won 27 games in a row on their home grounds, undefeated since 2019.

For Parramatta to break that shows that they're going to be real contenders this year.

As they get some of their outside backs back into the team, like Maiko Sivo and Waga Blake, I think we'll see Parramatta right up there in the finals. 

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