Some of Queensland’s best players will begin their preparations for a busy women’s rugby league season next year when they assemble for the first of a series of specialised Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons Origin camps this week.
An extended squad of 34 players will come together this Saturday, December 11, on the Gold Coast to begin working towards an action-packed 2022 calendar that includes two NRLW seasons, a QRL statewide competition season, the Ampol State of Origin match, an NRL All Stars match and the Rugby League World Cup at the end of the year.
“It’s trying to look big picture, and gathering emerging and current Maroons as a group to grow them as players, to try and professionalise as much as we possibly can leading into such a big year,” female pathways and Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons coach Tahnee Norris said.
“It is important to connect before the NRLW campaigns kick off to establish some shared goals to drive us towards Origin.
“It’s all (about) learning… it’s all about bringing in experts in their field to upskill the players as much as possible so they are given as much information as possible to get things right both on and off the field for what’s going to be a massive year.
“The outcome from that too is we benefit if we have strong fit healthy players at Origin time when they come back into the QRL competition and then into the Maroons programs and the Under 19 programs as well.”
The QRL are committed to strengthening female pathways and development for a broad range of players and as well as the 20-player squad who were part of the successful State of Origin campaign this year, the extended training group will also see outstanding performers from the 2021 BHP Premiership season and rising young stars join the squad.
Nine players who featured in the Queensland Under 19 representative team will be elevated to join the senior squad, with Nakita Sao, Sara Sautia, Tyesha Mikaio, April Ngatapuna, Emma Paki, Zoe Cook, Jetaya Faifua, Jada Ferguson and Keilee Joseph to all benefit from the experience.
A separate emerging camp for Under 19 players will be held in the new year.
“It’s an important camp, especially for the younger girls as a lot of them won’t have played this much footy in an upcoming year,” Norris said.
“It’s trying to give them as much education as possible for their own personal development, as we do see them as future Maroons players.
“They will get to put their best foot forward and potentially get selected for a Queensland Maroons position; we saw two 18-year-olds do that this year.”
In March next year, after the completion of the NRLW regular season, a revised squad of 30 players will be selected and contracted to the QRL for a series of camps ahead of the 2022 Origin match.
As per the QRL’s announcement earlier this month on the commitment to deliver equal Origin pay, each of these squad members who take part in all the lead-up camps and specialised sessions will receive a payment to compensate them for the time they may need to take off work to train, travel and undertake their recovery requirements.
Extended Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons Origin squad