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The Illawarra Steelers are delighted to announce the NSWRL has accepted its proposal to join the 2023 Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership, with success being hailed as a significant step forward for women’s and girls’ rugby league in the region.

In further news, NRLW Dragons playmaker Rachael Pearson and former Steelers juniors Teagan Berry and Salma Nour will join Club Captain Keeley Davis in the scarlet and white jersey for the team’s inaugural season.

“This is a huge positive for women and girls looking to play the game they love at the highest level,” said Steelers Deputy Chairman Sean O’Connor.

“As a rugby league nursery, we have had a long history of producing some of the best rugby league players, male or female. This new pathway will benefit present and future players, who will no longer have to leave their area to pursue their chosen sport at an elite level.”

Meanwhile, Head coach Alicia-Kate Hawke has been busy behind the scenes appointing former Dragons NRLW coach Daniel Lacey as her assistant and beginning to put her stamp on the playing roster.

“I’ll be running my eye over every potential recruit as we look to build a competitive squad from the outset, Hawke said.”

“Not only are we bringing back players of the calibre of Davis and Berry, but we’ve also received over 60 expressions of interest from players within and outside the region,” Hawke said.

Expressions of interest close on Wednesday, 14 September, before Hawke and her coaching team select a squad to start training in early November.

First founded in 2005, the 2023 HNWP will kick off the Women’s season, commencing in February and running through to the end of May. The Women’s State of Origin series begins in June before the NRLW starts mid-July.