Big plans for new Jillaroos coaches
The revamped Jillaroos coaching staff will waste no time putting their stamp on the wider squad of players as they look to build a strong culture and deep roster of quality players ahead of the World Cup at the end of 2017.
Head coach Brad Donald – who has previously mentored the highly successful Queensand Women's team – is joined by assistant Jamie Feeney, the current New South Wales performance programs manager and former Bulldogs back-rower.
Jillaroos legend Karen Murphy will take on a mentoring role.
Donald told NRL.com his immediate focus will be on developing a strong team culture, which is something that has evolved with both the NSW and Queensland women's teams in recent years.
"We really need to work on elevating the Jillaroos jumper as the pinnacle of the sport. That will be our immediate goal and it's probably no different to what the male team through Mal [Meninga] is doing at the moment," he said.
"We're working hard on developing a culture that the girls develop themselves and buy into and take us forward to the World Cup 2017."
A squad of 30 players will head into camp on the Gold Coast this week.
"The number one outcome [from the camp] is developing culture and developing some parameters; basically they'll self-regulate and the culture will determine who's there come November and December," Donald said.
"We want to make sure we determine that everything from now on is a competition. The game is at a point where we've got a good 30 to 50 players that could pull on a national jersey and they need to understand that every little point along the way, be it a club football match, interstate game, All Stars, the Nines, it is a competition and the camp we'll be rooming the girls basically with their competition.
"There will be a back-rower with a back-rower, a halfback with a halfback and they need to understand what their competition's about so they know what's required to come out on top of their opposition number."
Feeney told NRL.com the players will see where the game's going and where it can go.
"[They will ensure] they're really accepting the responsibility, they're listening and learning, they're soaking in all the knowledge that they don't already have of rugby league which is great for us as coaches," Feeney said.
"We just need to go and set the expectations on these girls… there's many new girls in this Australian squad that haven't been there before. It's to get them in, show them a little bit of an insight into how we want to play football but more about how we want to be off the field and really respect the jumper."
Aussie skipper Ruan Sims welcomed the changing of the guard both in terms of the off-field roles as well as the younger players she now sees pushing her for her spot in the team.
"It's important that everyone gets together and is on the same page and understands what we're working towards which is ultimately coming home with the World Cup on December 4 next year at Suncorp," Sims told NRL.com.
"[The Gold Coast camp] is that first step in that direction. That gives us 12 months of building and working together and keeping each other accountable.
"It won't just be a coach saying 'you should be doing X-Y-Z', we'll self-regulate. That makes it easier for the coaches to concentrate on game plans and strategies and not need to worry about managing the team structure as a whole.
"The squad of 30 we've got coming in next weekend is great, we've got a blend of older players and new players. As we've seen the last 12 months, you've seen the quality of games that have been produced and I don't think anyone on that list will be a surprise.
"It will be great for me to speak to these girls about what the women before us have done, what it meant to them and the sacrifices they made.
"It will be great to impart that to the girls and hear their stories and see what they bring to the team."