brigginshaw and apps
Ali Brigginshaw and Kezie Apps will lead their teams in a historic three-game SOO women's series. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Women’s coaches predict higher-quality Origin opener

Jasper Bruce May 16, 2024

It’s not often Queensland and NSW agree on State of Origin matters, but both women’s coaches are forecasting an improvement in quality when the historic three-game series begins.

The largest crowd in women’s Origin history is expected to flock to Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night for the first game of the inaugural three-match series.

The difference in the Maroons and Sky Blues’ preparations for the series opener could hardly have been starker.

Queensland’s players have been enjoying competitive hit-outs since the first week of March when the BMD Premiership season began; this season, every member of the Maroons 17 has lined up in Queensland’s top-tier competition.

But the decision to push corresponding NSW league, the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership, to run alongside the NRLW season has left the Sky Blues without that same chance.

Keeley Davis, Kezie Apps, Jaime Chapman and Olivia Kernick have participated in this year’s BMD Premiership, but their Sky Blues teammates will be relying on lessons learnt in a seven-week training camp when they take the field for Origin I.

Other than opposed sessions with the 36-player Sky Blues squad, the majority of NSW representatives will come into the series opener having not played a competitive game this year.

“But we’ve done what we needed to do and the best that we can to get these girls prepared,” said NSW coach Kylie Hilder.

“I’m very confident they’re ready to go.”

Both teams endured disjointed preparation ahead of last year’s series opener, with uncertainty around the collective bargaining agreement prompting some players to sit out of their state competitions rather than risk injuring themselves without insurance.

Consequently, game one at CommBank Stadium was a scrappy affair, each side making 15 errors as Queensland ran out 18-10 winners.

Hilder is confident neither side will be as clumsy this time in.

“It was quite a frustrating year as a coach last year,” she said.

“This year, I know they’re a fully-fit squad, everyone’s done the work. We had 36 players (in training camp) to come up with that final 18. The depth that we’ve got at NSW is really, really good at the moment.

“For me, I feel (this year’s) prep has actually been better than even the girls playing in the Harvey Norman competition last year.

“I’m really confident that the first game is going to be a lot better than last year.”

Queensland coach Tahnee Norris believed a high-quality BMD Premiership would mean a high-quality Origin opener.

“We’ve had so many NRLW players spread out throughout the whole competition. It’s been such a tight series that it’s enabled us to actually prepare really well,” she said.

“The girls are ready to go from the amount of really quality games they’ve been playing through the BMD Premiership.

“I think there will be a bit of a difference in game one compared to last year.”