Harvey Norman Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder has used today’s announcement of the 2022 Ampol State of Origin venue to send a reminder to players hoping to pull on the coveted NSW jersey this year.
The NRL today announced Canberra’s GIO Stadium would host the fifth Women’s State of Origin on Friday 24 June, the first time it has been held in the ACT. The win-loss ledger with the Queensland Maroons currently stands at 2-2.
Formerly known as the annual Interstate Challenge, Origin status came in 2018 with the Sky Blues winning the shield at North Sydney Oval that year and again in 2019. Queensland scored back-to-back victories at Sunshine Coast Stadium in 2020 and 2021.
With the NRLW season now in full swing, Hilder said players needed to know that current form was crucial to securing a spot in the Origin squad.
“The NRLW has been a great platform to look at players for selection, and then after that is finished we’ll be selecting an initial squad of 25,” she said.
“We will then begin working with that squad, while looking at other players once the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership begins in April.
“At the moment it’s a blank canvas – all positions are open.
“We’re coming off two losses now so everyone needs to know that. They’ve all got to be playing good footy to represent NSW this year as past performances are just that – in the past.”
Hilder had been calling for the match to return across the border, and welcomed the decision to have Canberra host it for the first time.
“We’re hoping our supporters will now come from Sydney and other NSW regions because we know the Queenslanders will travel,” she said.
“We’ve got Canberra in our NSWRL Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale (U19s) competition and they’re hoping to join the HN Women’s competition. There’s been talks over the past couple of years about that.
“So we understand why the game is being held there. It’s a growth area for Rugby League. And even though it’s not NSW we do have a huge Blues following down there.”
The fact GIO Stadium has a 25,000 capacity, compared with 10,000 at North Sydney Oval and 12,000 at Sunshine Coast again reinforces the broad and growing appeal of the women’s game.
The Canberra Regional Rugby League (CRRL) comprises 35 Rugby League clubs from Cootamundra in the north-west, through Canberra to Cooma in the south, incorporating towns like Goulburn and Crookwell.
Female registrations have been rising across the NSWRL and the Canberra region is no different.
In 2018 there were 743 junior/senior women signed up. The figure in 2021 was 1,150 with an expected rise again in 2022 when final figures are tallied.
Another highlight of the Ampol State of Origin game will be the awarding of the Nellie Doherty Medal for Player of the Match.
The list of Origin match results and previous medal winners:
2018: NSW 16 def QLD 10 – Isabelle Kelly (NSW)
2019: NSW 14 def QLD 4 – Maddie Studdon (NSW)
2020: QLD 24 def NSW 18 – Tarryn Aiken (QLD)
2021: QLD 8 def NSW 6 – Tazmin Gray (QLD)