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The Broader Game: NRLW games up to 70 minutes to promote fatigue factor

The NRL Telstra Women's Premiership will expand its regular game time to 70 minutes this season in another step towards building a stronger competition in 2021.

An increase of five additional minutes per half comes after women's Ampol State of Origin jumped from 60 to 70 minutes in 2020.

The expanded time adds to matches increasing from seven to 18 this season, along with the number of playing weeks increasing from four to seven.

NRLW teams will go from playing a minimum of 240 minutes in a season to a maximum 490 minutes, excluding potential golden point.

In 2020, the NRLW averaged 41.1 minutes of ball in play within 60 minutes of game time.

A total of 10 of 42 tries from sides came in the final 15 minutes of matches.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

During the 2020 State of Origin match, two tries were scored in the final 10 minutes of play to set up a grandstand finish between NSW and Queensland.

More recently, the Maroons were able to kick a penalty goal with two minutes left on the clock last month in regular time they wouldn't have had in previous years.

The average time in play for both Origin clashes has seen a jump of more than six minutes.

Apps collects Brown with a beauty

Roosters captain Corban Baxter told The Broader Game the additional time in the NRLW would allow sides to build into a match and take advantage of fatigue.

"I think it's a positive move and something the girls will thrive with, having that extra 10 minutes," Baxter said.

"I think the players have handled the 60 minutes quite well. It feels over before you know it and that's been the feedback from a lot of players.

Brigginshaw takes to the stage to raise the shield

"When you take into account tries being scored and goals kicked, it takes time away from having the ball in hand.

"It is actually a fair jump, there are a few studies around what that last five minutes of each half can do for a team.

"People want to see more game time and this is going to help a lot."

The change isn't the only one expected for the NRLW this year with an 18th player due to be activated in line with the men's competition for an act of foul play or the failing of three HIAs in a match.

The six-again rules are again not expected to apply in the NRLW with penalties awarded instead.

Jillaroos strength and conditioning coach Simon Buxton said players' workloads had been a priority throughout the year and will be monitored across the NRLW and into the World Cup.

NRLW players in NSW have been exposed to a busier workload in the first half of the season through their local club rugby league competitions compared to players in Queensland and New Zealand.

I think it's a positive move and something the girls will thrive with.

Corban Baxter

"This year we forecast how many games an elite player might play in regards to representative and club footy and for some, it's a lot," Buxton said.

"We work with the RLPA in terms of sending correspondence out to the Harvey Norman or BHP clubs to be mindful of workload for some players and potentially rest players at certain times given what's ahead.

"Player burnout is definitely something we're wary of especially coming up to a big second half of the year which will hopefully include internationals and the World Cup."

Women's bubble back in play

NRLW players have been filling out all-too-familiar pre-screening paperwork this week in preparation for the likely scenario they'll have to enter a biosecurity bubble in a bid to play in this year's competition.

The scenario for the players is a blow given they already make sacrifices as part-time athletes.

Many players were forced to move out of their homes or take leave from work last year, particularly if they were deemed a risk of being exposed to the coronavirus.

The possibility of standalone games is also on the agenda but with the COVID-19 situation fluid, it's more likely most games will be played as double-headers.

It's understood a draw is close to being finalised.

Hang on, help is on its way

The Knights are continuing to finalise their roster before pre-season training starts on Monday but at least eight players will be arriving from New Zealand.  

Newcastle coach Blake Green is working behind the scenes at a rapid pace to put together a squad that will be competitive after originally being on the back foot to attract marquee talent.

He's struck success of late with several current Kiwi Ferns stars, including a few familiar former Broncos premiership winners, coming on board.

It was a similar scenario for the Knights in 1988 with the likes of Sam Stewart, Tony Kemp and James Goulding among seven Kiwis who played in the club's inaugural season.

Caitlan Johnston joins the Knights

Kelly's conflict with Knights

Still on the Knights and an interesting name has been appointed in the Hunter with Isabelle Kelly's husband Jake Callister set to oversee the women's strength and conditioning program.

He was an assistant to John Strange at the Central Coast Roosters in the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership this season but couldn't get a gig for the NRLW side, where Strange will coach Kelly.

Callister is making waves in the women's game through his expertise and comes with high credentials, more recently being part of the NSW under-19 coaching staff.

Kelly knocked back a chance to join the Knights on a marquee deal and will return to where it started with the Roosters in the NRLW after a brief stint at the Dragons.

Callister will join Blake Green for day one of pre-season training on Monday.

Chante Temara has joined the Roosters.
Chante Temara has joined the Roosters. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

My sister's keeper

Zahara Temara's loyalty to the Roosters is set to come with another bonus with younger sister Chante to follow the Maroons representative to Bondi.

Gold Coast-based Zahara had talks with Titans coach Jamie Feeney about remaining in her home town but after three years in Sydney, the 24-year-old opted to turn down a marquee deal and stay loyal to the Tricolours.

Rising dummy half Chante made her debut for the Broncos last season which included coming up against Zahara in the NRLW grand final.

Chante is a suitable replacement for NSW hooker Quincy Dodd, who is bound for the Dragons, while Nita Maynard hasn't been re-signed to the club with a likely move to Parramatta.

Happy wife, happy life

Warriors forward Ben Murdoch-Masila could see the bright side to his wife Roxy Murdoch landing an NRLW contract at the Roosters this week.

The pair were hoping to complete a husband-wife Warriors double this year but the New Zealand club's withdrawal of a side in 2021 meant Roxy had to look elsewhere.

Roxy finished playing rugby league in the UK with Warrington last year after supporting Ben's career for the past decade. 

"She was sneaky all last week with phone calls and I had been giving her the eye asking her who she'd been talking to," Murdoch-Masila said this week.

"Then she told me and I was really happy for her. It's good for her too, she's given up a lot in the past 10 years of my career so it's only fitting for her to start her own journey."

With the Murdoch-Masila family based in a bubble on the Central Coast, Roxy is waiting for approval to remain in Warriors camp while making trips to Sydney for Roosters training.

"I'm happy she can now take her frustrations out on other people rather than just me," Ben laughed.

Roxy Murdoch.
Roxy Murdoch.

HNWP down to two

The Harvey Norman NSW Premiership finals series has been largely disrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney with the playoffs now pencilled in for a grand final only on July 24.

Premiers Central Coast Roosters will play Mounties after both finished first and second respectively.

Highly fancied Cronulla Sharks and newcomers Helensburgh join the Wests Tigers and St Marys in having their seasons cut short with no time available between the state competition and NRLW.

It's a particularly cruel end for the Sharks, who never got a chance to play against Mounties due to poor weather in round two.

The grand final is due to be played at Leichhardt Oval with several NRLW stars including NSW representatives Isabelle Kelly, Simaima Taufa and Keeley Davis likely to be available.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations. 

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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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