2 Oct 2018

NRLW a vital boost for Kiwi Ferns

11:18 am on 2 October 2018

Kiwi Ferns coach Kelvin Wright has high expectations for his squad who all took part in this year's inaugural women's NRL competition.

Kiwi Ferns coach Kelvin Wright

Kiwi Ferns coach Kelvin Wright Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

The Kiwi Ferns will return to Mount Smart stadium after eight years to play the Australian Jillaroos in an historic triple header alongside the Kiwis and junior Kiwis.

Of the nineteen women selected for the Kiwi Ferns all have played in the women's NRL Premiership throughout all four teams.

While the bulk of the squad are made up of Warriors, Wright has included seven players who were part of the grand final winning team the Brisbane Broncos including halfback Kimiora Nati who won the 'Player of the grand final' award after scoring a hat-trick.

Kimiora Nati and Ngatokotoru Arakua holding the Premiership trophy

Kimiora Nati and Ngatokotoru Arakua holding the Premiership trophy Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

Veteran winger Honey Hireme, who played for the Illawarra Dragons, as well as Sydney Roosters hooker Nita Maynard have also been named.

With the added boost of the women's competition comes the expectation to reflect that experience on the international field.

"I certainly hope that we've got some better leadership, by them becoming semi-professional for that amount of time they've picked up better training habits," says Wright

"They understand now what it takes to be at the elite level and be consistent at the elite level - that's the bonus."

The new alignment with the men's NRL Premiership has prompted the organisation of the Kiwi Ferns to take a step forward.

In an initiative by Wright, communication with the NRL women's coaches has been open throughout the competition after frustrations in the past with the lack of elite experience and consultation.

Kiwi Fern Laura Mariu in action against Jillaroos in 2017 test

Kiwi Fern Laura Mariu in action against Jillaroos in 2017 test Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2017 www.photosport.nz

Wright says this has hindered the Kiwi Ferns performances in the past but it's a learning to build on for the future of the women's game.

"I went up to Brisbane, I went over to Sydney and all the coaches have been really accepting and helpful where ever possible with selections," says Wright

"With the NRLW whether we are in the Jillaroos camp or Kiwi Ferns camp ideally we want to progress the women's game and do what it takes to help the pathways."

"We've got to be careful how fast we grow the game but ideally in the next two seasons we want to see the competition expand."

The Jillaroos have also recruited a full NRLW-experienced side though they have named their captain Sam Bremner from the Dragons.

Both the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns are yet to select their captains and will wait to observe performances throughout the upcoming training sessions to do it.

"We want to make sure that we have players competing for spots," says Wright

"There are obviously a couple of clear options there but we will have a couple of talks around it."

The Kiwi Ferns will complete a week long training camp starting on Saturday October 7. The trans-Tasman triple header will take on October 13.