Folkes excited by Jillaroos debutants
Jillaroos coach Steve Folkes will blood four debutants in the Test against the Kiwi Ferns at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night after being impressed by their performances for the Indigenous All Stars.
Although the Indigenous side lost that game 26-8 against an NRL side that featured a host of Jillaroos, Folkes was impressed by the spark from a number of players, handing Jillaroos debuts to Indigenous captain Tallisha Harden, as well as Latoya Billy (who scored twice in that loss), Mahalia Murphy and Casey Karklis.
"They obviously impressed on that day," Folkes told NRL.com.
"They had good game awareness and they're terrific athletes – we thought we'd bring some new girls into the squad and add a bit of spark to it."
Although the Jillaroos lost their previous Test against the Kiwi Ferns during last year's Four Nations in Wollongong 12-8 on the back of a last-gasp try, Folkes said he saw plenty of reasons why the Jillaroos could overturn that result.
"The teams are quite close. Hopefully with this weather [heavy rain is forecast for game day in Brisbane] we can control the ball well enough and hopefully our kicking game has improved with a bit of extra tuition.
"We're aiming to play a fairly basic game; it's hard when you come in and you've got six sessions to get somewhere – it needs to be basic but I'm pretty happy with the week."
Folkes also lauded the assistance the women's game has had from the NRL.
"I think it's great – the push from the NRL and [CEO] Dave Smith. [NRL Elite Programs Manager] Gareth Holmes has been a massive promoter of the game and a help to us.
"So many people said to me after the Nines how much they enjoyed playing in that. Hopefully it continues and we get some more younger girls playing. For the girls the Nines was a great opportunity to play in front of a big crowd and hopefully tomorrow will be the same."
Jillaroos captain Steph Hancock was also excited by the debutants joining the side.
"The four of them have played together in the Indigenous All Stars team," she said.
"Honestly, they just bring a breath of fresh air to our side. Latoya, Tallisha, Mahalia and Casey, they're mostly playing in the centre/wing position and Casey will be thrown in as a dummy half – just their speed and agility, they're just naturals, they're going to be awesome."
Hancock said everything looked like it was coming together for the team in their week together on the training paddock leading up to the game due in part to the hard work of the coach.
"'Folkesy' was a bit quiet when he first came into camp with us girls, which is fair enough – being around 20 females rather than blokes is a bit different for him! But he's come out of his shell and just the advice and his coaching skills have really started to show in our structure on the training paddock.
"We sat down and had a video session and if we can just get a couple of things right that we didn't do in Wollongong then I think hopefully tomorrow night we should give them a touch up."