After playing his first game since Round 5, the Souths fullback has put to bed any speculation he will be picked in the Blues…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Rep Round is back and one of the centrepieces will be Women’s Origin in Canberra on Friday night.
Women’s Origin is consistently one of the standout games on the calendar and the 2022 edition is set to be the best ever – which is saying something, as the highest ever winning margin is 10 points and it’s usually much less. This game is as consistently close at it gets: last year’s was split by a penalty goal with 20 seconds to play.
Unlike previous editions, this will have players fresh off the back of an NRLW season, then straight into their state comps, then into Origin camp, meaning that the players are as up to speed and match ready as they could possibly be.
On top of that, the expansion of the NRLW earlier this year means that more women have had more first grade footy than ever before, which – as anyone who has followed the game can attest – has lead to an explosion of talent at the top of the game.
It’s the last time that we’ll get a single game standalone match, too, with the series set to expand to two games next year and (hopefully) three after that, which adds weight to this fixture as whoever wins will only have to split the series next year to retain the shield.
It’s going to be great and I can’t wait: so here’s everything you need to know ahead of the clash on Friday night at GIO Stadium.
Well, as mentioned – you can get yourself to Canberra on Friday night. Plenty of tickets have been sold but some remain and kids under 15 can actually go for free, which makes me long for the days of my youth. This comes with the obvious caveat that it’s Canberra in late June, so bring a blanket because it will probably be a cold one.
If you aren’t in the ACT, then you can stay out of the cold and enjoy the game on TV: it will take pride of place on Nine’s free-to-air scheduling, with the broadcast set to start at 7.30pm and the game beginning at 7.45pm.
It’s also carried live on Fox League and Kayo at the same time, as well as Sky Sport 4 in New Zealand, WatchNRL on streaming around the world and Sky Sports in the UK.
Women’s footy has a slightly shorter game time than men’s and Women’s Origin is no different, with 35-minute halves.
After that, we’re talking golden point and, given how close these games have been in the past, don’t rule it out. Several NRLW games went the distance this year too, and it’s not a bad punt if that’s your bag.
OK, the obvious answer for any Origin game is in the forwards, right? Well…Women’s Origin has traditionally been a little different .
The forward battle is obviously going to dictate the flow of the game, but often NSW have been able to win the middle and lose the match, with Queensland’s superiority in the spine leading them to victory.
The combination of Ali Brigginshaw at halfback, Tarryn Aitken at five-eighth, Brittany Breayley-Nati at hooker and Tamika Upton at fullback have been crucial in taking the Shield north of the Tweed in the last two editions.
Brigginshaw has been playing as a ball-playing lock of late, including in the NRLW for Brisbane, but is named in the No.7 jersey for this game.
It seems like the Maroons are looking to keep the old firm together, with Destiny Brill, who scored their only try to win Women’s Origin last year, shifted from hooker to lock to allow Breayley-Nati to return after sitting out last year.
If Queensland win, it will be because of that superb spine and their ability to get the ball where it needs to be. For the Blues, the spine is perhaps their weakest area – but lucky for them, they are stacked pretty much everywhere else.
Let’s start up front: the props will be Millie Boyle, current joint Dally M medallist and the best metre maker in the women’s game.
She averages close to 200m per game in the NRLW and everything Queensland do has to start with stopping her. They know a little about her at least: she’s the only Brisbane Bronco to feature for NSW, though she will join Newcastle for the next edition of the NRLW.
Once you get her, you then have to deal with Simaima Taufa, probably the next best forward in the game, followed by Blues captain Kezie Apps – so three of the pack have won Dally M Medals, plus interchange forward Sarah Togatuki, who was named best on ground in the Grand Final. It’s frightening stuff.
Then when they spread it wide, you get to the centres. Jess Sergis and Isabelle Kelly are as good a pair of strike centres as exist in the women’s game, and were named as Women’s Golden Boot winners in consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.
The other current reigning Dally M Medallist, shared with Boyle, is Emma Tonegato, who starts at fullback. She’s also an Olympic gold medallist in Women’s Sevens – alongside Queensland’s Evania Pelite – and her role in starting sets and adding the final touch will be vital.
The issue for NSW might be the spine. Rachael Pearson, named at halfback, is an exceptional goalkicker for St George Illawarra but debuts at Origin level, as does Tonegato, with five eighth Kirra Dibb and hooker Keeley Davis only in their second series. Compared to Queensland, it’s a major weakness.
If Queensland can make this a grind through their forwards, it’s likely that their halfbacks would have the edge and be able to lean on all that experience to win a low-scoring game. On a cold night in Canberra, that is entirely possible.
If New South Wales can get on top in the middle, then it might not matter that they are a clear second-best in the halves as they will simply go wide early to their stellar backline and win from there. A high-scoring, fast-moving game suits the Blues.
Whatever happens, this is set to be a thriller. The Roar will have live coverage and a report on the bell, so stick with us for all the best from Women’s Origin 2022.