Jillaroos, Kiwi Ferns set for showdown at Nines
The Australian Jillaroos and New Zealand Kiwi Ferns will face off in a three game nine-on-nine series at the 2015 Auckland Nines, it was announced at the event's launch on Tuesday.
NRL Football Operation Manager Nathan McGuirk labelled it an exciting announcement for the women's game with the two teams who contested the World Cup at the end of last year to continue their rivalry at Auckland's Eden Park.
"It is a great step forward for the whole game to give these girls an opportunity on such a big stage in front of 45,000 people on both days," McGuirk said.
While the immediate focus for the combatants will be their upcoming Test in November, newly-appointed Jillaroos coach Steve Folkes is excited about the opportunity afforded to the two teams over the weekend of January 31 and February 1.
"It has been a little while since I have coached so this will be something new," Folkes said at the launch.
"I've spent a couple of days watching videos of the state games and the World Cup and quite frankly I'm pretty impressed by the commitment and the contact.
"It was something I didn't expect so I'm looking forward to working with the girls because there is obviously a lot of talent there."
While Maddie Studdon, the Jillaroos debutant halfback, only met Folkes for the first time at the launch, the 19-year-old Helensburgh player is honoured to take her place in the team – granted she recovers from a broken fibula in time.
"I'm really excited and honoured to play in the squad," Studdon tells NRL.com.
"It is a massive announcement for women in league and it will be a massive highlight, and I think it will bring more girls into the game as well."
Reigning Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year Sarina Fiso is also excited about the chance to showcase women's rugby league back in New Zealand.
"We don't have many regular international fixtures so it is going to bring a lot of interest to the game," Fiso said.
"It is something we are really, really looking forward too... and it is going to be amazing atmosphere and the girls are going to be stoked when they hear the news."