Jillaroos star and Cronulla fullback Sam Bremner believes the Sharks' women's nines clash against the St George Illawarra Dragons this Saturday night will inspire the next crop of young female rugby league players.
While the Sharks already play in the women's Sydney competition against 10 other teams, the Dragons – a combination of the four clubs in the Women in Defence Illawarra League – will play for the first time ever.
The game will serve as the curtain raiser to the Sharks-Roosters Round 25 Telstra Premiership clash on Saturday night.
Bremner is hopeful the nines clash will serve as a reminder to young girls that the opportunity to play rugby league is becoming a readily available option.
"It's hard to keep up with how many opportunities we have presented lately but every single girl who is presented an opportunity no matter what it is – big or small – we say yes too because we really want to see the women's game grow," Bremner told NRL.com.
"It is so awesome young girls now can be at Shark Park on Saturday night and be like 'that's what I want to do when I'm older'. It's like the young boys when they watch the NRL.
"I'm happy to play for the Sharks against the Dragons, but I'm also happy that it'll create opportunities for younger girls.
"I know the Illawarra girls are really excited about it as well because their competition is a bit smaller and they don't get as much exposure," she added.
"So it's their chance to show what the Illawarra competition is about and how much skill there's down there too."
Speaking in Newcastle at the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars launch on Wednesday morning, Bremner used the five-year-old Women's All Stars fixture as another example of the game's growth for females.
"My first representative side was for the All Stars which was basically the Jillaroos side in the All Stars get up. They didn't really have many Indigenous girls playing for the Jillaroos five years ago," she said.
"Every year it has grown and grown and I think we have come to a better understanding of the importance [of the Indigenous All Stars] as each game goes by.
"The Indigenous girls were always involved in rugby league all those years ago but they probably lacked experience which is vital in representative games.
"Now they have plenty of games under their belt, they're very important and skilful players for New South Wales and the Jillaroos."
Bremner also backed New South Wales Rugby League's announcement of a nine-week under-18s female nines competition beginning next year.
NSWRL's five-year plan has also pencilled in an all-ages elite competition to begin in 2019, with a view to launch a competition in line with the Intrust Super Premiership over the next three to five years.
"It's a really good decision to go with the Nines because you can get so many more girls who are involved in tag and touch to come on over," Bremner said.
"It leaves them just to learn the tackling concept. A lot of girls would be happier to have an introduction in Nines then go straight to a 13-per-side game."
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