By Russ Haylock
Illawarra-based women’s rugby league teams, the Corrimal Cougars and Stingrays of Shellharbour, have impressed in the Macarthur Open Age Women’s competition so far this season, with both teams winning five of their first six matches. Both Clubs are also performing well in the Under 18s competition, with Corrimal on top of the ladder and Stingrays in third place heading into the business end of the season.
Melissa Spero, head coach of the Corrimal Cougars open women’s team, says results across the grades can be put down to many positives on and off the field at the Club. With a playing squad of over 30, Melissa praised her side on their achievements this season, currently in first position on the ladder.
“We have girls with a range of experience in the team this year, some have just come in and are learning, and they’ve done really well in terms of their growth within the game,” says Melissa.
“We’ve also got our young girls coming through who have played in the Under 18s, and they’ve really stood out, which is encouraging to see as it shows that our pathway is working.”
Several Cougars players have been recognised with representative honours this season, including playmaker Shakiah Tungai recently signed with the Broncos in the NRLW. Meanwhile, experienced player and Under 18s coach Mary Latu was selected for Tonga in their recent Test against New Zealand, and forward Tiana Kore played for New South Wales Under 19s.
Growing the game
Stingrays of Shellharbour is also enjoying a solid season with the Open Women’s team sitting in third place. Club Secretary and Women’s Manager Donna Singleton is impressed with the development of the team’s women’s program over a short time, which includes a large and healthy squad in the Under 18s and junior girls’ teams.
“To watch the girls grow is very rewarding. I’ve had the opportunity to manage our local teams and the CRL women’s rep team for the past two years, and we’ve had a lot of our Stingrays players selected for the team and also played for Tarsha Gale in rep tackle,” Donna says.
“To have the girls then come back to their local Club and continue to play the game with no pressure and enjoy it is something I have worked hard on for these girls.
“It’s really important to keep the girls interested and playing tackle. With great numbers in our Stingrays juniors and good transition and bonding, it’s helping to feed them through to our team in the senior competition.”
In a league of their own
Despite difficulties related to weather, ground availability, and travel, administrators and coaches from both clubs are immensely proud of the efforts of their players. They are hoping to work towards reinstating the local women’s competition next year.
“Having the two teams from the Illawarra in the top three of both competitions is a testament to the effort that the teams and the coaches around the area are putting in,” adds Melissa.
“It’s really important that we start putting that in down here in our own area and investing in our own players, as we have so much talent coming through around the Illawarra.”
This Illawarra women’s rugby league update was brought to you by South32.