After months of anticipation, this weekend will finally see the start of the inaugural NRL Holden Women’s Premiership.

The competition will see four teams, the Sydney Roosters, New Zealand Warriors, Brisbane Broncos and St George-Illawarra Dragons, play each other once over four rounds, with the top two teams battling out for the first ever NRLW premiership. Games will be played before NRL finals games, and like the men’s game will have two on field referees, the bunker, judiciary procedures, shot clocks, injury surveillance and team list regulations. Some slight rule changes will be made though, with halves being shortened to 30 minutes, a total of 10 interchanges, and 40/30 kick replacing the 40/20. With everything finally set in place, round 1 is set to exceed all expectations. 

Game 1: Sydney Roosters vs New Zealand Warriors 

Saturday 8th August, 3:05pm at ANZ Stadium
Live coverage on Chanel 9, Fox Sports and ABC Radio

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This clash looks to be a big one to open the competition. While neither team has the home game due to broadcasting and timing clashes, both teams will be wanting to start the campaign with a bang. 

The Roosters have taken full advantage of being the only Sydney team, with a star-studded squad from the Sydney competition. They have 10 NSW Origin players taking the field, who are all in good form and very experienced under pressure. Their halves pairing Maddie Studdon and Lavina O’Mealey can be expected to take full advantage of the 40/30 rule to help get their squad down the right end of the field.

The Warriors have the upper hand of playing before their men’s team and in front of a home crowd, which will boost their already strong team. With a team full of current and ex Kiwi Ferns players, their pack is not only experienced, but adjusted to playing together. Expect to see some of the same combinations that the Kiwi Ferns used in their World Cup campaign, which might be hard for the Roosters to contain.

Sydney Roosters: 1. Botille Vette-Welsh 2. Taleena Simon 3. Shontelle Stowers 4. Isabelle Kelly 5. Karina Brown 6. Lavina O’Mealey 7. Maddie Studdon 8. Simaima Taufa (c) 9. Kylie Hilder 10. Elianna Walton 11. Tazmin Gray 12. Vanessa Foliaki 13. Zahara Temara Interchange: 14. Nita Maynard 15. Sarah Togatuki 16. Chloe Caldwell 17. Victoria Latu Reserves: 18. Sharon McGrady 19. Ruan Sims 20. Brydie Parker 21. Quincy Dodd

New Zealand Warriors: 1. Apii Nicholls-Pualau 2. Langi Veainu 3.Shontelle Woodman 4. Onjeurlina Leiataua 5. Hilda Mariu 6. Laura Mariu 7. Georgia Hale 8. Annetta Nuuausala 9. Krystal Rota 10. Aieshaleigh Smalley 11. Tanika-Jazz Noble 12. Alice Vailea 13. Luisa Gago Interchange: 14. Sarina Clark 15. Lorina Papali’i 16. Amber Kani 17. Kahurangi Peters Reserves: 18. Sui Tauaua-Pauaraisa 19. Racquel Anderson 20. Lisa Edwards 21. Crystal Tamarua

Game 2: St George Illawarra Dragons vs Brisbane Broncos 

Sunday 9th August, 1:45pm at Suncorp Stadium
Live coverage on Chanel 9, Fox Sports and ABC radio

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This match couldn’t be arranged better, with an elimination clash between the Dragons and Broncos scheduled right after. While Brisbane have the home advantage, the pressure of fans and being before their men’s teams may see the best brought out of these teams.

Much like the Roosters, the Broncos have taken full advantage of their local talent with 11 international players and plenty of Queensland representatives. They’ve prepared well for their hard round 1 clash, with a training camp and 48-14 win over the PNG Orchids in front of 10,000 fans. With speed and strength across their forwards and backline, if halves Ali Brigginshaw and Kimiora Nati click they may be hard to beat. 

The Dragons have had one of the most publicised teams, with a balanced mix of representative players and new local talent. Unlike the Broncos, they’re yet to have a trial match, which may be especially hard for halves Keeley Davis and Raecene McGregor. If they can match the Broncos in defence through the middle, their skill and speed out wide may be enough to get them across the line.

Brisbane Broncos: 1. Chelsea Baker, 2. Julia Robinson, 3. Amelia Kuk, 4. Amber Pilley, 5. Meg Ward, 6. Kimiora Nati, 7. Ali Brigginshaw, 8. Heather Ballinger, 9. Brittany Breayley, 10. Steph Hancock, 11. Teuila Fotu-Moala, 12. Maitua Feterika, 13. Rona Peters. Interchange: 14. Lavinia Gould, 15. Chelsea Lenarduzzi, 16. Mariah Storch, 17. Ngatotokoru Arakua Reserves: 18. Tallesha Harden, 19. Lilieta Maumau, 20. Taylor Mapusua, 21. Karley Te Kawa

St George-Illawarra Dragons: 1. Sam Bremner (c) 2. Rikeya Horne 3. Jessica Sergis 4. Honey Hireme 5. Shakiah Tungai 6. Keeley Davis 7. Raecene McGregor 8. Oneata Schwalger 9. Anneka Stephens 10. Asoiva Karpani 11. Kezie Apps 12. Talesha Quinn 13. Annette Brander Interchange: 14. Holli Wheeler 15. Hannah Southwell 16. Teina Clark 17. Melanie Howard Reserves: 18. Asipau Mafi 19. Kate Haren 20. Talia Atfield 21. Georgina Brooker

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