28 Aug 2020

Unavailable Warriors players not forgotten by new NRLW coach

5:57 pm on 28 August 2020

New Warriors coach Brad Donald says he can't forget those players who won't make the journey with the National Rugby League Women's team this year and he wants his makeshift squad honour them too.

Brad Donald (Jillaroos coach)

Brad Donald. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Donald's first NRLW coaching role will test all his experience.

An accomplished international rugby league coach, Donald has coached the Australian national women's team since 2016 and guided the Jillaroos to victory over the Kiwi Ferns at the last World Cup.

With the Warriors Donald has been thrown in the deep end.

He says the other three NRLW teams have had a head start with bringing players together, but he is confident his side will be competitive.

New Zealand players will be the minority in the Warriors' women's team. With just six players able to commit to relocating to Australia for the duration of the season.

Kiwi Fern Honey Hireme has been identified to play for the women's NRL competition

Honey Hireme Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2017 www.photosport.nz

Kiwi Ferns Honey Hireme, Kanyon Paul, Madison Bartlett, Crystal Tamarua, Georgia Hale and Hilda Peters will make the move.

The rest of the squad will be made up of Australia-based players from around the country.

However, Donald wants the New Zealanders to be the focal point when the competition kicks off in October.

"These guys are the core of the group that we want to start with, we want to make sure that we build something around them," Donald says.

"They're going to own this experience, they're not just coming across to Australia and it's going to be taken over by all the people over here, they're front and centre of this group.

"They feel really strongly about the culture of the Warriors team, which we'll be embracing and learning along the way with them."

Donald works for the NRL developing female talent and he will recruit some young players who wouldn't have otherwise got an opportunity to play at an NRLW team this year for the Warriors.

"We'll definitely be utilising some of those up and coming and development players that have been chipping away waiting for their opportunity and that might just come a little bit sooner for them."

However, Donald also acknowledges this season's team will be missing some important parts.

"It's a lot of time and sacrifice for everybody, but more than anyone from those previous Warriors players who would have played under normal circumstances it's going to be really tough but we're going to make sure we take them on the journey so they know that anyone who pulls on one of those Warriors jerseys knows the sacrifice that has gone in from a number of people to make sure those jerseys take the field."

The Warriors women's side are one of two sides to get stand alone games.

Warriors women in 2019. Photo: Photosport

The New Zealand-based players plan to leave for Sydney in September and will need to undergo quarantine, although Warriors chief executive officer Cameron George says travel exemptions for players and staff from New Zealand to enter Australia have yet to be secured.

Donald, who is based in Queensland, will also have to quarantine with any players from the state when they cross the border to New South Wales - then they will link up with the New Zealanders in a hub-type situation.

Any New South Wales-based players chosen for the Warriors will be remain living at home.

Donald is taking some inspiration from the Warriors' men's team long stay in Australia for the NRL season which has seen them faced with challenges on and off the field.

"They've built an absolutely great culture under the duress of the current situation and I've no doubt we'll be able to do the same with the group of girls that we're able to pull together and have a successful campaign."