Giants & Sharks – 2023 Women’s Premiership Season Preview

BY PETER ROWE

The 2023 NRLWA Women’s Premiership kicks off this weekend – we talk to the club coaches about their hopes for the new season

 

Joondalup Giants

Joondalup coach Kurt Lantz has had his Giants in preseason since January, merging a mix pf last year’s team with several newcomers to the sport for 2023.

“We’ve lost about six players from last year, Lahtz, said. “ A couple of pregnancies and some knee injuries, but we’ve picked up a few well.”

Of the new additions some have come across from Touch, eager to try contact footy, something Lahtz knows takes time to adjust to.

“Yeah, it takes a while for them to feel confident with the contact element, but they have all adjusted well and we’ve been working with them on the  new skills required.

The Giants will look to have new haves this season, although Cook Islands World Cup player Aneeka Stephens will be their star, operating out of lock.

“She’s a great player for us and brings a lot of knowledge from that World Cup experience,”Lahtz said.

Lahtz has been building a team ethic within his squad knowing that to get success they need to be committed for the entire season.

“That’s crucial,” he said. “There’s got be a ‘want factor’ – we need to all want to achieve something and back each other when needed.”

The women’s tackle competition has improved year on year but one team that has stood out has been Ellenbrook, the team Lahtz sees as the main threat to his ambitions in 2023.

“They are a very good side but I’m hearing positive things from Fremantle, that they’ve picked up a few players recently,” he said.

And the Giants?

“Oh, we’ll be ready.”

Rockingham Sharks 

Injuries and inconsistency proved a hurdle too far for the Rockingham Sharks in 2022, winning just five out of a dozen games, seeing them fall away at a their business end of the season.

But that hasn’t deterred coach James Cole from spending much of the summer planing a rebuild.

“We struggled with injuries early on in the season and if affected our structure a lot,” Cole said.

“That said, I could see plenty of potential. We had leaders like Missy Buchanan and Cherish Leaf who took ownership on the field and that for me was a big positive.”

In 2023 the Sharks will be looking at the senior players to lead again and despite some losses to rugby union’s new pathway, Cole has seen some new faces during pre-season, eager to play contact sport.

“For some young women coming across to tackle it can be a challenge facing contact for the first time, but from what I have seen they are all relishing it,” Cole said.

“Kennedy Cherrington is a former Sharks and she has done a lot to help us lift our profile.

“Retention of players is key for 2023. Along with just growing the women’s game.

“What I’ve seen is players coming from touch and even union bring a new and different dynamic to our game and that’s something we should embrace.”

Cole said he was looking a week-by-week approach. “Each game at a time”, to improve structure and standards.

“For me it’s about seeing them enjoying the game as well,” he said.

“For me, yes, I’d like us to make finals, make the top four, but I also want our girls to love playing.”