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St George Illawarra have announced Jamie Chapman, Filomina Hanisi, Mareva Swann and Viena Tinao as the Dragons' 2019 NRL Holden Women's Premiership development players.

This comes following the success of inaugural Dragons' Women's Premiership development players Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa'amausili and Maddison Weatherall last year – who are both now fully-fledged NRLW-contracted players.  

Showcasing the Dragons' pathway for the female game once again, the young quartet is further proof for young aspiring athletes that their rugby league dreams are possible.

"Development players are very important for a club like the Dragons. We thought it was really important to again introduce a couple of girls from our Tarsha Gale Cup system into our Women's Premiership squad," Dragons Women's Premiership coach Daniel Lacey said.

"Aaliyah (Fasavalu-Fa'amausili) from the St George Under-18s and Maddison (Weatherall) from the Steelers' Under-18s are a testament to this given they have progressed as development players to now contracted NRLW players.

Left to right: Mareva Swann, Viena Tinao, Jamie Chapman and Filomina Hanisi.
Left to right: Mareva Swann, Viena Tinao, Jamie Chapman and Filomina Hanisi.

"It's proven that it's worked which is why we have expanded our development squad to four players for 2019.

"All of our 2019 development players are on the right path. They all played Under-18s for New South Wales earlier this year, which I was lucky enough to coach. Seeing what they could bring to that elite level, both on and off the field, was important especially in group environments with them all being so young.

"None of the four players are overawed by the Women's Premiership squad and I'm really hopeful they can follow Aaliyah and Maddison's lead and earn NRL Women's Premiership contracts in the coming years."

Outside back Chapman (aged 17), lock Swann (18) and front-rowers Hanisi (18) and Tinao (17) have trained with the Women's Premiership squad since the pre-season's commencement, where they have gained invaluable experience.

Importantly, Hanisi and Swann come from the St George Tarsha Gale Cup system while Tinao featured for the Tarsha Gale Cup premiership-winning Illawarra team. Chapman, meanwhile, featured for the Sharks' Under-18s team in 2019.

"Both [Filomina and Swann] have come through St George's strong and successful Tarsha Gale Cup system this season, and both of them made the New South Wales Under-18s on the back of that. With both of them of age this year, we thought we'd bring them into the Women's Premiership fold in case any injuries arose within the squad," Lacey said.

"Viena is still a year younger than everyone else, meaning she can play Tarsha Gale again next year. She's a really strong and powerful forward, and only injury prevented her from being in Player of the Year contention. We have high hopes for her in future seasons.

"Jamie really impresses me in terms of her athleticism. She's still a year young, meaning she can play Tarsha Gale Cup in 2020, and although she comes from outside of our catchment area I could just see her ability and how she could benefit from being around our Women's Premiership squad and team."

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour 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 Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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