AAP Rugby

Three-game women’s Origin still years off

By AAP Newswire

NSW skipper Kezie Apps predicts a three-game Women's State of Origin series is still several years away despite quantum leaps in the past 18 months.

When the Blues take to North Sydney Oval seeking a fourth straight win over Queensland on Friday, Apps and her teammates will be hoping it represents another step in the right direction for the fixture and the female game.

While for years the annual interstate fixture was given second-class treatment, the growth in interest and the code's investment in women's football has seen it become a highlight of the NRL's representative round.

Last year 6,824 attended the game, the first to be branded an Origin match, while another one million watched on TV via the Nine Network and Fox Sports.

The NRLW was last year hailed a success and the game's governing bodies are slowly but surely building up the grassroots and creating pathways where there were previous black spots.

Friday's match will be played over 30 minute halves, and players hope that once the female game gains momentum and clubs inch towards fulltime professionalism, their bodies will be fit enough to punch out 80 minutes like their male counterparts.

As for a three-game series to be played alongside the men's series, Apps said the talent pool wasn't deep enough just yet.

"A few years," Apps predicted.

"We've still got to build the playing pool and get everyone up to that level that can handle this level.

"Because injuries and stuff can happen. Game two you might have to bring more people into the game and then game three as well.

"So you want that quality to be there for the whole three games. The NRL are doing a great job, Jamie Feeney and (Jillaroos coach) Brad Donald, they're building it from the grassroots up.

"We've got the Tasha Gale Cup here in NSW so those under-18s girls will be coming through in a couple of years."

Apps said the women's game was quickly building momentum and predicted strong growth again this year and into the future.

"Especially after last year, we've had such positive feedback with people wanting three games, they just love it," Apps said.

"To come back around and get another opportunity to play here at North Sydney Oval, everyone is just so excited."