While finals football is normally an exciting time, the second season of the NRLW adds an extra bit of excitement to this time of year.
This season is expected to be just as action pact as the last, except this year features two stand alone games, one in round two with the Warriors at home, and one in round three between the Dragons and the Roosters. The crowd figures and reception of this game could see more stand alone games, and help to build the women’s game even more.
The 2019 season will feature the same four teams as last year, though with some new faces in all four. Each team will play each other once, with the top two going to the grand final, an opening match before the men’s. Games will be thirty minutes halves and a draw at full time will result in Golden Point.
Round one, which will coincide with the first round of finals, will see the Sydney Roosters take on the New Zealand Warriors at AAMI Park at 3:05pm on Saturday, and the St George Illawarra Dragons play the Brisbane Broncos at BankWest Stadium on Sunday at 2:05pm.
This year has seen some significant changes to rules regarding recruitment, with the introduction of a cap system. Each of the four teams will be allowed to sign 22 players, all of which will be allocated points based on their highest achievement. Jillaroo and Kiwi Ferns players will be allocated 10 points, 8 points for State of Origin players, 4 points for playing in the Prime Ministers XIII, and 3 points for playing in the National Championships. These points only apply if players were selected for that representative team in 2018 or 2019, and each team will have to be between 120 and 160 points. This new rules allows for a more even competition, and encourages the signings of up and coming players.
2018 was a great year for women’s rugby league, but this years NRLW might just make 2019 even better.
While the Broncos looked slick and unbeatable last season, I think they’ll have more difficulty defending the title this year. I think the Warriors balance between resigning and recruitment, including signing of Honey Hireme, will see them also be a strong side this year, and that the overall increase in pathways and experience will mean we’ll see even higher quality football with closer scorelines. While all four teams have strong line ups and have undergone changes, I think that the Dragons might have the edge this year. After some strong recruiting in the off season, and some of last years local juniors getting some high representative experience under their belt, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.