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Where the NRLW Nines will be won and lost

The inaugural NRLW Nines kick off on Friday in conjunction with the men's tournament at Perth’s HBF Stadium.

The Warriors will launch the event on day one with a clash against the Sydney Roosters. 

Last year's NRLW grand finalists Brisbane and St George Illawarra will then lock horns in game 10 for a mini grand final rematch.

The Dragons will go into the tournament as favourites – a notion that they had during the 2019 season. 

NRL.com previews the women's tournament with all you need to know. 

The Rundown 

Team to beat: Dragons

St George Illawarra pose a serious threat to all sides after naming a star-studded squad that contains seven Jillaroos who took part in the World Cup 9s last season and 13 players who played in the NRLW grand final in 2019. 

The additions of former Rooster Isabelle Kelly and the returning Sam Bremner makes them even harder to beat on paper.

The gun: Jessica Sergis 

X Factor: Shakiah Tungai 

Burning question: How will Sam Bremner go upon her return from having a baby?  

Squad: Kezie Apps (c), Shaylee Bent, Brittany Breayley, Samantha Bremner (c), Kaarla Cowan, Keeley Davis, Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa’amausili, Rikeya Horne, Isabelle Kelly, Tiana Penitani, Jessica Sergis, Maddison Studdon, Shakiah Tungai, Botille Vette-Welsh, Maddison Weatherall, Holli Wheeler.

Dragons fullback Sam Bremner is back after giving birth to son Reef.
Dragons fullback Sam Bremner is back after giving birth to son Reef.

Surprise packets: Warriors

They may be missing some stars through injury, none more so than powerful Kiwi Ferns captain Honey Hireme, but the Warriors could surprise on the big stage. The recruitment of three current New Zealand Ferns keeps the side relatively new and unknown. 

There are five players in the line-up – Apii Nicholls, Georgia Hale, Kanyon Paul,  Madison Bartlett and Crystal Tamarua – who helped the Kiwi Ferns lift the World Cup 9s trophy last year. 

The gun: Georgia Hale 

The X Factor: Charntay Poko

Burning question: What can the New Zealand World Cup 9s internationals add to the Warriors squad? 

Squad: Apii Nicholls, Madison Bartlett, Laur'eane Biville, Pahu Kani, Shontelle Stowers, Kanyon Paul, Georgia Hale (c), Rhiarna Ferris, Huia Harding, Amber Kani, Te Whetumarama Nuku, Charlette Butler, Charntay Poko, Kathleen Wharton-Keremete, Crystal Tamarua, Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali.

 

Don’t underestimate: Broncos 

They were virtually written off last year ahead of the second NRLW season and used it as motivation and to their advantage. They’re in a similar boat again but can't be ignored.

Their halves are the best in the tournament – led by Ali Brigginshaw. Kiwi Ferns halfback Raecene McGregor was named player of the World Cup 9s tournament. 

The gun: Ali Brigginshaw 

The X Factor: Raecene McGregor 

Burning question: Can Australian touch footballer Hayley Maddick make an impact with the NRLW champions? 

Squad: Tarryn Aiken, Chelsea Baker, Annette Brander, Ali Brigginshaw (c), Jessika Elliston, Jayme Fressard, Amber Hall, Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Raecene McGregor, Hayley Maddick, Tanika Marshall, Rona Peters, Julia Robinson, Tahlulah Tillett, Tamika Upton, Meg Ward.

Broncos playmaker Ali Brigginshaw.
Broncos playmaker Ali Brigginshaw. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Point to prove: Roosters

No other team was as disappointing as the Tricolours in the second NRLW season and for that reason alone they’re desperate to bounce back in any format. 

The Roosters have 13 of their squad returning from the winless 2019 campaign but are boosted by Jillaroos 9s representatives Kirra Dibb, Corban McGregor and Kiwi Ferns World Cup champions Nita Maynard and Kiana Takairangi. 

The gun: Corban McGregor 

The X Factor: Caitlan Johnston 

Burning question: Can new recruits Courtney Hill and Ash Quinlan help revive the Tricolours?

Squad: Courtney Hill, Kirra Dibb, Quincy Dodd, Tallisha Harden, Talei Holmes, Caitlan Johnston, Bobbi Law, Nita Maynard, Corban McGregor (c), Brydie Parker, Shanice Parker, Ash Quinlan, Hannah Southwell, Kiana Takairangi, Simaima Taufa, Zahara Temara.

Roosters X-factor Caitlin Johnston.
Roosters X-factor Caitlin Johnston. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Draw 

  • Game 1: Warriors v Roosters (Friday, 4.05pm/7:05pm AEDT)
  • Game 10: Broncos v Dragons (Friday, 7.55pm/10:55pm AEDT)
  • Game 11: Roosters v Broncos (Saturday, 10:20am/1:20pm AEDT)
  • Game 12: Warriors v Dragons (Saturday, 10:45am/1:45pm AEDT)
  • Game 25: Broncos v Warriors (Saturday, 4.20pm/7.20pm AEDT)
  • Game 26: Dragons v Roosters (Saturday, 4.45pm/7:45pm AEDT)
  • Final: Women's (Saturday, 6.25pm/9.25pm)

Predictions 

Tarsha Gale: I believe that the Dragons will be the overall victors this weekend. They will be led by co-captains Kezie Apps and Sam Bremner who coach Daniel Lacey told me recently 'are the heart and soul of the club'. The recent signing of Isabelle Kelly joining Jess Sergis in the centres will be prove to be unstoppable. The danger continues out to the wings with the likes of Tiana Penitani, Shakiah Tungai and Bo Vette-Welsh. All in all it promises to be a great display for our women's game and I can't wait to watch it!

Chris Kennedy: We've come to expect excellence from the Broncos over the past two seasons but I can't go past that Dragons team. Isabelle Kelly, Tiana Penitani, Jess Sergis, Shak Tungai and Bo Vette-Welsh make for an absolutely stacked backline that should relish the Nines format.

Mary Konstantopoulos: I can’t go past the St George Illawarra Dragons to win the Nines. Strength and speed are key to a successful Nines campaign and the Dragons have that in several players including Kezie Apps, Isabelle Kelly and Jess Sergis. I’m also really looking forward to the return of Sammy Bremner who returns to the squad as co-captain following her year off to give birth to baby Reef.

Margie McDonald: It's an "against-the-odds" call but I like the look of the Roosters for the Nines NRLW competition. NSW Origin women's coach Andrew Patmore has always said Corban McGregor in full flight and in open space is one of the best sights on a rugby league field. The Nines give her that platform. And the Roosters have the grunt up the middle in the very powerful, forward-pushing frames of Simaima Taufa and Hannah Southwell, working off the wiles of hooker Nita Maynard. Throw in the kicking games of Kirra Dibb and Quincy Dodd to feed backs like McGregor and Kiana Takairangi and I feel the Tricolours women will feel right at home in Western Australia.

Jamie Soward: The Broncos have proven over the past two years that they're the benchmark of the women's game and will be up for the challenge to add another piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet. Ali Brigginshaw is at the top of her game and Raecene McGregor is showing the potential to be just as good in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing how Hayley Maddick goes in the format with Tamika Upton and Tarryn Aiken also having strong touch football backgrounds. 

Brad Walter: Dragons. The addition of Isabelle Kelly and return of Sam Bremner make the NRLW Dragons the team to watch out of all 20 playing in Perth. With Jess Sergis, Bo Vette-Welsh, Britt Breayley, Maddie Studdon and Kezie Apps also in their side, they have strike power and depth across the park.