Women’s rugby league will be on full display come Friday Night at GIO Stadium, as the Katrina Fanning Shield opens for the Ampol Women’s State of Origin.
The curtain raiser to the first ever State of Origin match to be held in Canberra will be the Queanbeyan Blues and the Woden Valley Rams. A lot is on the line for both sides as they try to cement their spot in the top four of the competition.
But for the two teams, this match is more than just another chance to play the game they love.
It’s an opportunity to showcase women’s rugby league on its biggest stage and entice young women to pursue the sport across the country, but especially here in Canberra.
Last week it was announced that the Canberra Raiders will join the NRLW in the 2023 season, opening a pathway for female players to reach the elite level in the ACT and surrounding regions.
Woden Valley’s Irene MacArthur spoke to media on Wednesday about the opportunity of NRLW and what it means for the local KFS competition.
“We’re frothing at the mouth to be quite honest. I know that’s pretty graphic,” MacArthur jokingly said to media on Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re absolutely excited and there’s a bunch of girls in the mix. These guys are really willing to step up into the women’s grade (NRLW) and showcase their talent. We’re ready to express what we have.”
The 2022 season marks the Woden Valley Rams’ inaugural year in the Katrina Fanning Shield.
MacArthur showed plenty of emotion, expressing how grateful they are for the pioneers of the Rams and how they've paved the way for this new wave of the club.
The 2022 season is Woden Valley’s inaugural year in the Katrina Fanning Shield and MacArthur was emotional when explaining how this exciting opportunity wouldn’t be possible without the pathways forged by former female players.
“I start getting emotional talking about them, but those women were the pioneers for our club, so it’s really important for us to carry on that legacy," MacArthur said.
"The fact that we have that platform at GIO Stadium this Friday, we just have to represent these jerseys with pride."
One of her opponents come Friday night, Alanna Brooks, shared the excitement around the Queanbeyan club following the news of the Raiders entering the NRLW.
“It is such a great opportunity for many of the girls in the team, and that it's so close and in our town as well," Brooks said.
The excitement seems to be at an all time high for the Blues as Brooks couldn’t wipe the smile off her face explaining her side's emotions heading into the match.
“We are stoked to be chosen for the game of the round to play at GIO Stadium because it is such a great opportunity. I’m sure it's quite a bucket list item for many of the girls,” Brooks added.
“I think it’s going to be a combination of emotions, excitement, and nervous. I’m not too sure just yet because we don’t know what to expect.”
“GIO Stadium is such a bigger field compared to our home at Seiffert Oval so it’s going to be very overwhelming, but I’m sure we will be contained and bring our best footy to the field.”
The match between the Queanbeyan Blues and Woden Valley Rams kicks off at 5.30pm at GIO Stadium on Friday night.
Not only will this match be an important one in the context of the Katrina Fanning Shield, but also as such a momentous occasion for women’s rugby league in the ACT.