Roosters & Lions – 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

Fremantle Roosters

Many are tipping Fremantle Roosters to be the surprise team of 2023 and coach Taz Rangihaeata is quietly confident his squad has what it takes.

The club has seen an influx of new players and some returning ones, with Rangihaeata adding preseason has been solid with 25 players now registered.

“It’s all about growth and development, he said this week. “ 2022 was great start and we need to continue what we started, retention was key and we’ve done that.

“And we’ve had a few girls from netball coming to training as well, curious to see what the game is all about.

“So learning new skills is key and giving the girls confidence in their tacking ability.”

For many new to the sport, the contact of rugby league can be a little daunting to begin with, and Rangihaeata  said once they got over a few bumps and bruises, it was all systems go.

“Teaching the fundamentals of the game is key,”  he said. “Getting the structures right and building confidence in their skills. It’s slowly coming together and I’m really proud of what they are achieving.”

Rangihaeata cited Ellenbrook as the benchmark but said the gap was closing as the clubs attract players from a wide range of sports.

The Roosters will have Dallys Tiniti leading them on the field with Jenaya Paul as her halves partner, a duo Rangihaeata believes could be a real danger.

“Dallas is a great communicator and leader, she will be steering the ship,” Rangihaeata said.

“We have a good squad and we’re not here to just parcipate, we want to compete,” he said.

“We’re really excited at the prospect of a new season, let’s lace up those boots and get on the field.”

South Perth Lions 

For coach Dan Manning 2022 was a year of learning and building and 2023 will follow the same path as the Lionesses hope to improve.

“We learnt a lot last year and we’re still learning, “ Manning said.

“We’ve got a few new faces this year plus a couple returning and pre-season has been good.”

South Perth may have finished last in 2022 but they showed plenty of character – something Manning is hoping they can build on.

“We have been getting the basics right – that’s important,” he said.

“The fancy stuff can come later.”

Mel Thomas returns in the halves after having a year out to have baby and she is joined by a number experienced players.

Manning believes the gap between the men and the women’s  game is closing and he has seen a few players come across from union and from both touch and league tag.

“They have some great skills with the ball and we’ve been concentrating on other areas of the game like tackle technique, which for many is something new.

“A bit nervous for some, but if we can that right and instil confidence in their approach they will be better players.”

With a squad of about 20 players the Lionesses are excited about the challenges that lie ahead.

“Ellenbrook are the benchmark and hav been for a number of years,” Manning said.

“But Joondalup have a strong squad and are always tough, and I’m hearing good things about Fremantle and their side as well.

Asked is there were star standouts to watch out for, the coach was diplomatic.

“All of them,”  he said. “I know they are ready for the challenges each game will bring.”