The St George Illawarra Dragons have announced a new component to their overarching commitment of growing women’s rugby league within their region with the creation of a Women’s NRL Nine’s squad.

The Dragons’ Women’s NRL Nines squad will comprise many of the best female players from across the Women in Defence Illawarra League and provide a new dimension to the extensive pathways already available to aspiring players.

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The Dragons’ Women’s NRL Nines squad will compete in their inaugural fixture against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Southern Cross Stadium, Cronulla on Saturday, August 27 (6.35pm).

“We are very pleased to announce the establishment of the Dragons’ Women’s NRL Nines squad and to be able to provide another pathway for women to play rugby league at an elite level,” said Dragons CEO Peter Doust.

“The Club is committed to growing the opportunities for women across the game and this modified version of the sport serves as an ideal platform to promote our very own Women in Defence Illawarra League, which has been providing opportunities to women across the region for several years already.

“We look forward to seeing the team take to the field in the first of many local derbies and watching the talent of our region on display to a larger audience.”

The Women in Defence Illawarra League is a five club, 13-a-side competition presently in its sixth season which features players from across the area representing Bomaderry, Berkeley, Corrimal, Helensburgh and Windang.

Illawarra Rugby League will introduce a local modified version of Nines format open to all ages later on in the year with the implementation of a U17 Division to follow in 2017.

“This is a great opportunity for female players from our area to demonstrate on a large stage the potential of women’s rugby league and the support of the Dragons is invaluable,” said Illawarra Rugby League Distric Manager Chris Bannerman.

“This fixture will help promote awareness of the current opportunities for females to play the game in establish competitions and the rapidly developing representative pathways.

“It is also a rewarding moment for the many players, clubs and officials who have worked tirelessly to help grow the game within our local Women in Defence Illawarra League competition since it was launched in 2010.

“There are presently five clubs within our local competition who have wholeheartedly supported women’s rugby league within the Illawarra and all will further promote growth through the introduction of an exciting modified format of the game to be played in November.”

Dragons NRL Nines Squad:

Kezie Apps (Helensburgh)
Bernadette Asiata (Berkeley)
Talia Atfield (Bomaderry)
Erin Blackwell (Helensburgh)
Courtney Crawford (Berkeley)
Tanika Davis-Lonesborough (Berkeley)
Rebecca Dunning (Windang)
Rhiannon Findlay (Corrimal)
Tammy Fletcher (Corrimal)
Alicia Hawke (Corrimal)
Rikeya Horne (Corrimal)
Jewelle Jack (Berkeley)
Jess Little (Bomaderry)
Mikayla Malaki (Berkeley)
Lesley Park (Corrimal)
Maddison Perceval (Helensburgh)
Jasmine Sarin (Helensburgh)
Leah Rose Schwiekle (Berkeley)
Ashley Swan-Hayles (Berkeley)
Chantelle Thomas (Windang)
Alyce Thompson (Bomaderry)