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Hilder sticks to her guns with Origin title in sight

NSW coach Kylie Hilder hasn't closed the door on players who were overlooked in her extended Origin squad but believes she has the right squad mix to regain the shield on June 24.

Hilder named a 24-player NSW squad last week ahead of an introductory camp on Wednesday that will start preparations for the women’s clash at GIO Stadium in Canberra.

Among the names in line for an Origin debut include Dragons star Emma Tonegato, halfback Rachael Pearson and emerging Roosters forward Olivia Kernick.

However, Hilder left a few out from last year’s campaign including Parramatta halfback Maddie Studdon and hard-running forward Kennedy Cherrington, while there were others on the cusp of Origin also overlooked.

“The door is never closed on players,” Hilder told NRL.com.

“I was really big on rewarding players from their NRLW performances and if I picked an Origin side tomorrow every player would come from the 24 selected.

"But that doesn’t mean in eight weeks’ time there’s not going to be someone outside the 24 that might play Origin.

“I look at myself, I was an assistant coach [in 2020] and ended up playing. There’s still plenty of footy to be played and a City-Country game coming up.”

Ampol Little Origin is back in 2022!

The selection of an initial squad now gives Hilder and her coaching staff time to monitor players through the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership and BMD Premiership following their performances in the NRLW.

NSW stars Kezie Apps and Jessica Sergis were among those who were rested in the state competition last week while Hilder said she urged any other players in the 24 with niggling injuries to not be afraid to sit a game out.

“With the amount of footy these girls have already played, especially with the two Sydney sides playing in the grand final, we’ve got to be able to monitor these girls now leading up to Origin,” she said.

“They’re all recovering after a pretty intense first NRLW. It’s not just physically but the mental side of it otherwise by the time Origin comes around we’ve got burnt out girls.

“The idea is we pick the squad and put them into a pathways program and keep a very close eye and monitor them for the next eight weeks.”

The Sky Blues were narrowly beaten 8-6 by Queensland in heart-breaking fashion last year when a 69th minute penalty goal from in front handed the Maroons their second straight title.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

Despite the post-match questioning south of the border after the game, Hilder said it was time to move on.

“I don’t see it as the reason we lost the game last year,” Hilder said.

“We had about 10 missed opportunities I’ve clipped up where we were genuine chances of scoring points and we couldn’t capitalise on that.

“We lost it well before that moment. We’ve got fresh faces that will come into the side and I really want us to focus on working around our key players and utilising their strengths.”

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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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