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Women's game strong ahead of World Cup

They enjoyed a clean sweep over the Kiwi Ferns at the Nines, they took care of New Zealand in the mid-year Test and they'll enter the World Cup as defending champions, but the Jillaroos aren't getting ahead of themselves 100 days out from the tournament that begins on home soil on November 16.

Speaking to media on the shore of the picturesque Cronulla beach – just a stone's throw away from Southern Cross Group Stadium where all pool matches and semi-finals will be played – Jillaroos skipper Ruan Sims said it would be foolish to overlook rivals England, the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Canada and three-time champions, New Zealand. 

"I think the pressure of history is on the Kiwi Ferns," Sims said. 

"They went into the last World Cup with three wins and they were going for their fourth in a row, so I definitely wouldn't discount them. Canada are going to be strong and England are always a physical task as well. 

"It'll be physical, it'll be tough and it'll be skilful footy because women's rugby league has gone from strength to strength since the last World Cup. 

"We've seen that in the games we've played against the Kiwi Ferns in the last couple of years, we've seen it in the Nines and nations like Canada getting a women's team – I know a lot of those girls have come from their Sevens program – so I envisage it being a very tough competition and it won't just be New Zealand that puts up a big show. I know Papua New Guinea are going to be so physical and the Cook Islands who are the only Pacific nation there as well. 

"I feel like we are still chasing that carrot; I don't feel like we're going to be defending that World Cup, we just want to go out and win it again. 

"We just want to present the best possible football that we can, and we feel that if we can do that, then we will win."

With the women's game continuing to grow at a rapid rate, this year's tournament – which kicks off on November 16 and will consist of three triple-headers – is the perfect opportunity for Sydneysiders to watch their all-conquering Jillaroos duke it out against the rest of the world as they look to claim back-to-back titles for the first time. 

While Sydney will play host to the bulk of the tournament, both the men's and women's finals will be staged as a double-header at Suncorp Stadium on December 2, heralding the first time two World Cup winners will be crowned on the same day and on the same stage.  

"For the RLWC Committee to decide that they wanted a standalone tournament shows exactly what value they see in the women's game that it can stand on its own two feet, which I think is really fantastic," Sims said. 

"What's even more spectacular is to be able to play the final and crown two world champions in the same sport on the same day – men's and women's – it's unheard of and I'm so proud rugby league is the first one to do this. 

"It's not something I saw occurring when I first started as a six-year-old. 

"It was not something that I thought was possible, and the last five years – and the last three years more specifically since we won the World Cup in 2013 for the first time ever – since then, I feel like women's rugby league has been the leading force in women's rugby league in the world. 

"To be in the position that we're in now is phenomenal and an opportunity we can't let go."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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