Queensland celebrate their win in a landmark edition of the Women's State of Origin. Image by Scott Radford-Chisholm/AAP PHOTOS
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The NRLW change that could make Origin even better

Jacob Shteyman June 28, 2024

The inaugural three-game Women’s State of Origin series has barely wrapped up and already sights are set on how to make the spectacle even better next year.

They were on opposing sides of Queensland’s historic 22-6 win over NSW in the series decider in Townsville on Thursday night, but Maroons coach Tahnee Norris and Sky Blues counterpart Kylie Hilder are in agreement: bring the NRLW season forward to start before Origin.

There can be no doubting the quality of the rugby league dished up during the Maroons’ pulsating 2-1 series win. 

But with the national women’s competition not due to start for another month, there is a sense that the competitiveness of Origin could be further improved by extra game time in the build-up.

 Queensland celebrated after a match which showcased the quality of the women’s game. Image by Scott Radford-Chisholm/AAP PHOTOS 

“NRLW needs to be before Origin,” Hilder said. 

“They’re playing the best footy at a high standard week in, week out leading in.”

Blues captain Isabelle Kelly agreed with her coach.

“I think that would be the best case for both teams instead of having to play in state competitions,” she said. 

“We had a great prep though, we were fit, we were strong. Our staff did everything that they could to make sure that we were ready to go, but for me it would be ideal having an NRLW leading into a State of Origin.”

Queensland had a leg up over NSW in that their players had all benefited from lining up in the BMD Premiership – the state’s top-level competition – since March.

But NSW’s decision to push their corresponding league back to run in tandem with the NRLW left the Sky Blues without the same experience.

With two more teams coming into the NRLW next year, the competition will have to be brought forward to run alongside State of Origin, Norris suggested.

“Obviously an NRLW preseason helps. We want to play off the back of an NRLW preseason, but we had to use the BMD Premiership this year and it worked for us on the field,” she said.

Caitlan Johnston-Green
 Caitlan Johnston-Green’s face showed what a tough night it had been for the Blues. Image by Scott Radford-Chisholm/AAP PHOTOS 

If the crowds were anything to go by, State of Origin is already onto a winner with the three-game format.

More than 22,000 fans braved the Townsville rain for game three, while a sell-out crowd packed out Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium in torrential conditions in Origin II.

“It’s magical, seriously,” Norris said.

“It’s something that we’ve been working towards for such a long time and to finally get the three game series and to win it like that, it’s a really special moment.”

The next step is to lengthen the halves from 35 minutes to 40 minutes.

“You look at how fit our girls were tonight, I think we’re at a point where we can really push for that,” she said. 

“But we need to make sure that we are continually growing the sport and get it professional. 

“If we’re expecting 80 minute games, then we need to make sure we look after these girls and provide an environment where they’re training full time to be able to do that.”