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Jillaroos hopefuls ready to adapt amid World Cup uncertainty

Jillaroos coach Brad Donald will have a 40-player World Cup train-on squad "prepared for anything" in 2021 following the disruption that came last year.

Preparations for the defending champions will begin in Kingscliff on Friday afternoon. A bumper women's schedule is expected to be released by the NRL in the coming weeks.

The three-day training camp will be the first get-together for the group ahead of the bid to retain their World Cup trophy in the United Kingdom.

The easing of state border restrictions between Queensland and NSW last month was welcome news for Donald, with all players now able to attend the camp.

"We're starting with a group of 40 and want to make sure they have access to the Jillaroos high-performance staff and an understanding around how everything works," Donald told NRL.com.

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"A lot of the players go from one system to another throughout the year, so in conjunction with NRLW clubs our staff will oversee their fitness, strength, injuries and overall well-being.

"We'll see how the players go throughout the year with training and performances and bring that down to a squad of 24 for the World Cup.

"We also really want to do a quick reflection on last year and acknowledge the many obstacles players and staff overcame, before reassessing our plans ahead of this year."

Of the 40-player train-on squad, nine remain from the successful 2017 World Cup campaign, although Donald pointed out those who were not listed are still able to push their claims.

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"While it's going to be difficult because they won't have the program support, if there's somebody on the outside of the 40 who works hard, they can certainly push for selection," Donald said.

"We've had players in the past who haven't been in our program but have played for Australia the same year, players like Millie Boyle, Julia Robinson and Shak Tungai.

"We don't want to shut the door on a player who is going to aim up all year and who may stand out in the NRLW or State of Origin this season."

World Cup organisers remain confident of both the men's and women's tournaments going ahead across October and November but Donald said it was important for the Jillaroos to have a "plan B".

"We need to have a presence in the international schedule this year after missing out last year," Donald said.

"The Jillaroos brand has become synonymous with the women's game and the girls are really hungry to play some footy as a national team.

"Hopefully there's a World Cup, and if there's not this year than hopefully there is some sort of international footy for the women to play.

"We just need to make sure we're ready for anything thrown at us again in 2021."

Broncos prop and Jillaroos squad member Chelsea Lenarduzzi.
Broncos prop and Jillaroos squad member Chelsea Lenarduzzi. ©NRL Photos

Jillaroos 2021 training squad

  • Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa'amausili
  • Ali Brigginshaw
  • Annette Brander
  • Botille Vette-Welsh
  • Brydie Parker
  • Caitlan Johnston
  • Chelsea Lenarduzzi
  • Corban McGregor
  • Filomina Hanisi
  • Hannah Southwell
  • Holli Wheeler
  • Isabelle Kelly
  • Jaime Chapman
  • Jayme Fressard
  • Jessica Sergis
  • Jessika Elliston
  • Julia Robinson
  • Karina Brown
  • Keeley Davis
  • Kennedy Cherrington
  • Kezie Apps
  • Kirra Dibb
  • Lauren Brown
  • Millie Boyle
  • Quincy Dodd
  • Sammy Bremner
  • Sarah Togatuki
  • Shaniah Power
  • Shannon Mato
  • Shaylee Bent
  • Shenae Ciesiolka
  • Shontelle Stowers
  • Simaima Taufa
  • Tallisha Harden
  • Tamika Upton
  • Tarryn Aiken
  • Tazmin Gray
  • Tiana Penitani
  • Yasmin Meakes
  • Zahara Temara