Ex-Jillaroo praises NRL women's comp

The new competition could uncover the next Jillaroos player from the region like Warwick's Steph Hancock pictured playing in the 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup.
The new competition could uncover the next Jillaroos player from the region like Warwick's Steph Hancock pictured playing in the 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup. CRAIG GOLDING

RUGBY LEAGUE: Women playing rugby league was unheard of when Millie Edwards started in Toowoomba in 2001.

Fast forward 16 years and the NRL just announced its owns women's competition will start next year.

"I feel like I was probably born 20 years too early," Edwards said.

Edwards played for the Australian Jillaroos for eight years and was part of the 2008 World Cup squad alongside this year's winning captains Steph Hancock and Renae Kunst.

Millie Edwards playing for the Toowoomba Fillies.
Millie Edwards playing for the Toowoomba Fillies. Contributed

"Unfortunately it didn't happen in our time but it's very special," she said.

"Talking to the current squad they're very appreciative of the players that came before them. It's heart warming to know."

Edwards said the new competition, which will include six teams linked to NRL clubs and a State of Origin match played mid season, was a step in the right direction.

"I think it will eventually mirror the men's game, eventually it will get 15 teams and maybe even play before the men's games," she said.

She also hoped the rapid growth in women's rugby league across Australia would filter through into Toowoomba.

This would mean more players like Hancock, who came through the Fillies system, would get an opportunity to play at the highest level.

"We have a really good base here in Toowoomba with some good juniors girls coming through," Edwards said.

"Toowoomba has some good pathways for young girls anyway with under-14s, U16s and U18s."

Now these players will have something to work towards with the new women's competition.

"The goal would have been to play for the Jillaroos now there is that extra incentive," Edwards said.

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Especially with the announcement 40 players would be offered Jillaroos contracts, which would include match payments.

"It will attract women from other codes. It can only mean more numbers whether that's in Toowoomba or somewhere else," Edwards said.

Topics:  fillies nrl toowoomba rugby league women in league women's rugby league women's rugby league world cup

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