The first ever Australian Schoolgirls side has been selected following the curtain-raiser fixture between a combined NSW and ACT team against Queensland prior to Origin III at Suncorp Stadium.
The clash, which was won 30-6 by the Maroons in the lead-up to Game Three, was the final selection trial for the inaugural Australian Schoolgirls side, which will travel and play internationally in fixtures in September later this year.
The introduction of an Australian Schoolgirls is another monumental step for women's rugby league with not only expansion at the elite level but participation rates and an increase of programs in schools on the rise.
The 2022 Schoolboys side was announced earlier this month with the program celebrating its 50th anniversary since the 1972 tour.
“If little boys can grow up and aspire to play in the Australian Schoolboys jumper then it makes common sense we have the same opportunity for girls," said NRL General Manager of player pathways, Brad Donald.
“We’re seeing a lot of hard work to get into schools and provide the same opportunities to females as we do the males in our game development programs.”
The Schoolgirls side will be coached by emerging Illawarra-based coach Melissa Spero, who selected the 17-player team alongside Samantha Economos and Jim Look.
“This pathway is a really big opportunity for not only the girls but the staff as well and I’m really excited to be able to lead that," Spero said. “It’d be awesome to see a similar pathway to what the boys have, although it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same, we’ve just got to grow it to be a go-to pathway for Schoolgirls."
After taking out the Origin curtain-raiser, 12 of the 17 players selected in the Schoolgirls team come from Queensland, with Marsden State High School and Keebra Park State High School both contributing two players each to the squad.
New South Wales will feature prominently in the spine, with Raiders fullback Georgia Willey joining Eels five-eighth Tallara Bamblett and Roosters Indigenous Academy hooker Ally Bullman in the key playmaking positions.
2022 Australian Schoolgirls
- Georgia Willey (Erindale College, Wanniassa)
- Piper Simons (Stella Maris College, Manly)
- Tia Jordyn Vasilovski (Caroline Chisholm College, Glenmore Park)
- Litia Fusi (Westfield SHS, Fairfield)
- Ebony Rafstrand-Smith (Keebra Park SHS, Southport)
- Sienna Lofipo (Marsden SHS, Waterford West)
- Tallara Bamblett (The Hills SHS, Seven Hills)
- Lillian Yarrow (Emmaus College Rockhampton)
- Ally Bullman (Narrabeen SHS)
- Eliza Lopamaua (Woodridge SHS)
- Shaylee Joseph (Mabel Park SHS, Slacks Creek)
- Latisha Smythe (Endeavour SHS, Caringbah)
- Tavarna Papalii (Keebra Park SHS, Southport)
- India Seeto (Marsden SHS, Waterford West)
- Theophelia Mosby – Nona (Kirwan SHS)
- Aerielle Hobbler (Mareeba SHS)
- Tiresa Elika (Ipswich SHS, Brassall)
- Coach: Melissa Spero (Warilla High School)
- Manager: Scott Whybird (Mareeba State High School)
- Assistant Coach: (Sherree Bush – Catholic Sport Office Canberra/Goulburn)
- Trainer: Jayden Best (Stretton State College)