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Tricolours prepare for life without Kelly

Sydney Roosters Nines captain Corban McGregor hopes to see former teammate Isabelle Kelly re-join the club later in the season but is otherwise focused on helping the Tricolours overcome their recent woes in the women's game.

A winless campaign in the second Holden Women's Premiership season has put pressure on the Roosters to turn their fortunes around, starting with the Nines tournament on Friday.

Recently retired hooker Kylie Hilder will take on the coaching duties for the two-day event and McGregor is confident the pair can bring together a squad that has underachieved over the past two years.

"We definitely haven't reached anywhere near our potential yet," McGregor told NRL.com.

"The Roosters NRLW journey so far has been a bit of a roller-coaster. I think the Nines will be a good opportunity to take the pressure off and have fun with it and give some girls who haven't had a whole lot of time on the field the chance to impress for positions later in the year."

Corban McGregor named Roosters captain

The Tricolours were dealt a blow when golden boot winner Kelly decided to join St George Illawarra after it was announced all players would be essentially free agents for the tournament. 

From an off-field perspective for McGregor and Hilder, no-one was closer to Kelly at the Roosters, with both attending the star centre's bridal party last month.

"Initially I was devastated but as a friend I'm happy for her," McGregor said.

"She was looking for something new and knows a lot of the girls at the Dragons. Hopefully it inspires and refreshes her approach to the game.

Former Roosters star Isabelle Kelly has joined the Dragons for the Nines.
Former Roosters star Isabelle Kelly has joined the Dragons for the Nines. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"The nature of the tournament to go and play for another club allows her to do that. I hope the Roosters welcome her back one day but we'll have to wait and see.

"She's too good a player not to welcome back but for now deserves to spread her wings for this tournament."

The Roosters have been busy in their recruitment drive with Leeds Rhinos captain and Woman of Steel Courtney Hill signing on for the event.

Hill's acquisition and the signing of Australian Touch Football star Ash Quinlan will give the side a fresh dimension in attack.

"It's a good opportunity for clubs to try different things and maybe we can uncover new talent that want to try rugby league and on the big stage," McGregor said.

"I'm excited to play alongside Courtney and see what she has to offer, and a couple of our other new girls who have come from other sports. I'm all for that."

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