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Blues and Jillaroos teammates Kezie Apps and Jess Sergis set for City-Country collision course
Last time they clashed Dragons, Blues and Jillaroos teammates Kezie Apps and Jess Sergis made a pact not to take each other on. Now, all bets are off.

Nick Campton and David Riccio
4 min read
May 13, 2021 - 9:44PM
News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom
Usually we have to wait until State of Origin to see mate against mate, but that’s exactly what we’ll get in the women’s City-Country clash on Saturday.

Kezie Apps and Jess Sergis are teammates for Helensburgh, St George Illawarra, New South Wales and Australia but this time they’re on opposite sides of the revamped clash that promises to blow the roof off Bankwest Stadium.

“We made a pact a few years ago at our first national championship not to run at each other,” said Sergis, who will line up at centre for City.

“We made the final and got halfway through the game without tackling each other but we broke it in the second half, she was marking me up.


They are friendly off the field, but there will be no holding back for NRWL stars Kezzie Apps and Jess Sergis in the City-Country clash. Picture: Jonathan Ng
“We made the pact again this year but I think while we’re out there we’ll just want to prove to each other who’s the better player. You always want to put one over your mates, and I’ll definitely be trying to put one on Kezie.

“Kez did get the first shot, she lined me up, but I got her back. It’s 1-all at the moment, we’ll see the winner on Saturday.”

According to Apps not only did Sergis get the better of her last time, there will be no pact at all when Country and City collide as part of a revamp of the concept.

“Apps is coming out on top. There’s no pacts anymore, she broke the pact last time so all bets are off. If she comes my way I’m putting a big shot on her,” Apps said.

“She beat me last time we played each other, I think it’s 1-nil to Jess so I have to get one back on her.”

In contrast to the men’s City-Country match, which was axed in 2017 after years of NRL clubs withdrawing their players, both women’s sides boast plenty of top line talent.

Roosters star Corban McGregor, Dragons flyer Botille Vette-Welsh and Jillaroos mainstay Simaima Taufa will all line up for City while Country will have Blues tyro Hannah Southwell lining up in the backrow alongside Apps.

And while the match shapes as a genuine selection trial for the State of Origin clash on the Sunshine Coast next month, it’s also an opportunity for new stars to emerge.

Both teams are really strong, it’ll be a good level of skill, and I think it’ll give a lot of the younger girls who haven’t had a chance on the big stage to show what they’ve got,” Sergis said.


Brad Fittler at the NSWRL City-Country Women's training session at Sydney Olympic Park. Picture: Tim Hunter.
“There’s a girl debuting for Country named Rachel Pearson, she plays with us at Helensburgh, she’s played awesome the last few years and she’s got a shot.

“She’s never even been to Bankwest, for her to play there on Saturday and experience a three-day camp, it’s a big step. It’s a great thing for girls to experience.

“Some of the girls haven’t played in an actual stadium before and just having the opportunity to represent City is a big deal.”

As a proud Bega product, Apps believes providing more pathways for country-based players can only strengthen the game as a whole, especially with the impending expansion of the NRLW.

“It’s a huge honour to be able to represent where you come from as the country bumpkins that we are,” Apps said.

“The men don’t get to play City-Country anymore, I know it would mean a lot to them if they could, but I’m so glad we get and we get another game to showcase the women’s talent.

“There are so many talented females and males out in the country that don’t get the opportunity as people in the city. I’m so proud to be a country gal.”

There will also be Under 16s, Under 18s, Men’s Open, Wheelchair and Physical Disability City-Country matches played over the weekend, as well as a Steel City challenge between Illawarra and Newcastle representative sides.





Seven 2020 Dragons named in NSW Women's State of Origin team
Tue 25 May 2021, 09:59 AM
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The NSWRL is pleased to announce the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s State of Origin team for the Ampol Women’s State of Origin match at the Sunshine Coast on Friday 25 June.

Kezie Apps will captain the side while Keeley Davis and Kennedy Cherrington have been named to make their debuts. Davis was named to make her debut at hooker last year but was was forced to withdraw through injury on game day.

Brydie Parker and Renee Targett have been named as emergencies on an extended bench.

The team also includes 12 players from the City team which won the Country v City representative match at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday 15 May and five players from the Country team.

Harvey Norman NSW Women’s State of Origin coach Kylie Hilder said she was looking forward to going into camp with the players next month as they look to return the Shield to NSW.

“We’ve named a very strong team to take on Queensland and I was really impressed by the form the players showed in the Country v City match this month,” Hilder said.

“I can’t wait to get into camp and I’m confident the players will give a good account of themselves and are looking forward to the opportunity to take on Queensland again.”

NSW won the first two Harvey Norman Women’s State of Origin matches in 2018 and 2019 – and had not lost an interstate match against Queensland since 2015 – before last year’s narrow 24-18 loss.

Hilder became the first female coach in the professional era to be appointed for the NSW Women’s Origin team in February and will be assisted by former Manly Warringah Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey.

A media schedule will be released next month when the squad goes into camp.

Harvey Norman NSW Women’s State of Origin team
1. Botille Vette-Welsh (Wests Tigers)
2. Yasmin Meakes (Central Coast Roosters)
3. Jess Sergis (Helensburgh Tigers)
4. Isabelle Kelly (Central Coast Roosters)
5. Tiana Penitani (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
6. Corban Baxter (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
7. Maddie Studdon (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
8. Simaima Taufa (Mounties)
9. Keeley Davis (Mounties)
10. Millie Boyle (Burleigh Bears)
11. Kezie Apps (c) (Helensburgh Tigers)
12. Sarah Togatuki (St Marys Saints)
13. Hannah Southwell (Central Coast Roosters)
14. Quincy Dodd (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
15. Filomina Hanisi (Mounties)
16. Kennedy Cherrington (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
17. Holli Wheeler (North Sydney Bears)
18. Brydie Parker (Central Coast Roosters)
19. Renee Targett (North Sydney Bears)

Coach: Kylie Hilder





10 Dragons named in Under 19s Women's NSW squad
Dragons.com.au dragons.com.au
Wed 2 Jun 2021, 12:36 PM
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The NSWRL is pleased to announce the Harvey Norman NSW Under 19s Women’s team to face Queensland at the Sunshine Coast on Friday 25 June.

Four St George Dragons and Five Illawarra Steelers players will represent NSW in the interstate match with Dragons NRLW player Jamie Chapman also named.

The 19-person squad includes nine players from the Harvey Norman Under 19s City team and nine players from the Harvey Norman Under 19s Country team which competed at the recent National Championships in Redcliffe, with one player also being selected from outside those representative teams.

The team will be coached by Blake Cavallaro, who coaches the Indigenous Academy Sydney Roosters team in the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup.

Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Under 19s State of Origin team
1. Jamie Chapman (Tweed Seagulls)
2. Charlize Lloyd-Phillips (Indigenous Academy Sydney Roosters)
3. Andie Robinson (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
4. Cassey Tohi-Hiku (St George Dragons)
5. Teagan Berry (Illawarra Steelers)
6. Luisa Yaranamua (St George Dragons)
7. Tayla Montgomery (Indigenous Academy Sydney Roosters)
8. Fatafehi Hanisi (St George Dragons)
9. Rueben Cherrington (St George Dragons)
10. Rose Lina Tau (Illawarra Steelers)
11. Hope Tevaga (Wests Tigers)
12. Chantel Tugaga (Illawarra Steelers)
13. Lilly Baker (Glebe Dirty Reds)
14. Taneka Todhunter (Indigenous Academy Sydney Roosters)
15. Tegan Dymock (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
16. Folau Vaki (Wests Tigers)
17. Jordyn Preston (Illawarra Steelers)
18. Keele Brown (Illawarra Steelers)
19. Leilani Wilson (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Coach: Blake Cavallaro



NRL Telstra Women's Premiership expansion


NRL Telstra Women's Premiership expansion​

Author NRL Media Release NRL Media Timestamp Fri 11 Jun 2021, 12:50 PM

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The NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership (NRLW) will expand to 6 teams in 2021 with the objective of expanding to 8 teams in 2022.
In 2021 the NRLW will see the Gold Coast Titans, Newcastle Knights and Parramatta Eels join the competition.
The Australian Rugby League Commission approved the expansion which will see the new clubs join the Brisbane Broncos, St George Illawarra Dragons and Sydney Roosters for NRLW 2021.

NRLW will commence alongside Round 23 of the Telstra Premiership, with each team playing each other once and the top four teams playing in semi-finals.
The Grand Final will continue to be played on the same day as the NRL Grand Final.
The number of games will increase from 7 to 18 this season and the number of playing weeks will increase from 4 to 7.
The majority of NRLW matches will be played as double headers on the same day as NRL Telstra Premiership matches to maximise exposure for the competition.
After being part of the foundation four clubs who entered the competition in 2018 the Warriors will not participate in the 2021 season because of uncertainty surrounding borders.
The club is committed to returning to the competition next year. With the framework established for the 2021 season the NRL will work with the playing group and clubs on a contracting model.
NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the expansion highlighted the success and growth of the women’s game.
“Today is a really special day for the game. Women’s rugby league is the fastest growing part of our sport and it’s exciting to be in a position to expand the competition after the success of the last three seasons,’’ he said.
“The NRLW competition has produced some of the best athletes in Australia, it’s captivated a new fan base and today’s expansion will give more players the opportunity to play in an elite competition.”
Mr Abdo said the Commission was prioritising investment in growing the women’s game at all levels.
“Now that we have a really solid base, thriving State competitions and investment in expanding the game from the bottom up, I cannot wait to see the NRLW go to a new level across 7 weeks and 18 games.

“I want to thank the Titans, Knights and Eels for their commitment to women’s rugby league. It’s an historic day for all clubs and an exciting day for their fans and of course the ongoing commitment of the Broncos, Dragons and Roosters.”
Naming Rights partner Telstra said the expansion of the competition would provide more opportunities for athletes.
“The continued expansion of the NRLW Telstra Premiership is something we are so excited to see as it provides greater opportunities for aspiring professional female athletes to forge a career and gives fans of the game more action to watch, and greater connection to the supporters in Newcastle, Gold Coast, and Parramatta,’’ said Genelle Sharples, Principal, Media Sponsorship & Awards at Telstra.
Mr Abdo thanked the Warriors for the participation in the NRLW competition.
“The Warriors were part of the first four clubs to join the NRLW competition and we are grateful for the commitment they made right from the start, particularly during the pandemic last year.
It’s been an incredibly challenging period for the club during COVID and I’m confident we will see the Warriors return to the competition in 2022 as part of our expansion plans. ”





NSW Blues representative Keeley Davis.


'I'm just very lucky': Chair fall reveals shock diagnosis for Davis​

Author Alicia Newton NRLW Chief Reporter Timestamp Sat 19 Jun 2021, 11:01 AM
Alicia Newton

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When Keeley Davis fell off her chair three days out from making her State of Origin debut last year, she immediately knew something was wrong when she couldn't get up.
It was a sign that the 20-year-old body was failing her, and had been doing so for more than a year.

Sitting in the team room at Twin Waters resort on the Sunshine Coast last year, Davis was due to be taken to the hospital for an injection in her back after six months of ongoing back and joint pain.
Davis had multiple scans and MRI tests throughout the season after experiencing chronic back pain but was cleared to keep playing despite her body feeling like it was struggling to recover after games.
It wasn't until the chair incident, which spiked the pain significantly and ruled her out of Origin, that Davis spent the off-season undergoing further tests for answers.

Battle for Origin supremacy: Women's Origin rivalry heats up

In January, she finally got an official diagnosis. Davis had a type of inflammatory arthritis.
"Ankylosing spondylitis," she tells NRL.com.
"The type of disease people get when they're 18 or 19 so I look back now and might've had some symptoms at school.
"It affects my spine and pelvis mainly along with my joints and my ankles.
"We've got no idea how it's come about. We were treating it like a back injury for about six months because it would come and go.

"When I fell off the chair I couldn't stand up and do anything. I couldn't pick a ball up off the ground and I didn't sleep.
"Nothing on the scans was coming up so I kept playing but, in hindsight, I was actually doing all the wrong things. I'm just very lucky I got on top of it."
Thankfully, Davis's health battle is considered treatable with the Jillaroos representative on regular medication and required to have an ASADA-approved injection in her body every fortnight.
Under the medication, she'll be able to continue to play at the top level and recover like normal.

"It took me a while to get used to it, I started off on some weaker medication to see how I reacted to that," she said.
"I was having a lot of fatigue and feeling worn down but have been on stronger medication since and have been a thousand times better. It's been unreal."
Davis is one of two debutantes for NSW on Friday night and will be crucial to the hopes of the side reclaiming the shield in enemy territory.
She faces a running battle with rising Maroons young gun Destiny Brill at hooker.
"I can't wait for the game, it feels like a big false start last year and watching the girls not be able to get the result it hurt, so we're definitely looking to win this time around," Davis said.

Women’s Origin tickets are on sale via NRL Tickets. Supporters can watch the historic match from just $5 for juniors, $15 for adults and $35 for families.