Round 1: Roosters v Dragons NRLW preview
NRLW is back for 2020 on Saturday morning as we head to Canberra for the first time in the competition's history with the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons kicking the competition off.
The Sydney Roosters have had a very mixed history in the NRLW having only won the one game across the two seasons even though their sole victory in 2018 got the Roosters into the Grand Final. Last season, the Roosters weren't able to find form across their three games after initially falling to a 4-point defeat to the Warriors. The Roosters then fell to a 20-0 defeat against the Broncos before a 24-16 defeat in the final round against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
For the 2020 season, the Roosters have kept 11 members of their squad from 2019 but have been given a big boost with the high-profile signings of Australian rugby internationals Charlotte Caslick and Grace Hamilton. They also welcome Botille Vette-Welsh who comes from the Dragons whilst Taleena Simon returns to the squad after missing 2019 due to the birth of a son.
The St George Illawarra Dragons have proven that the 2020 NRLW season has more than one contender after making the 2019 NRLW grand final and upsetting the Broncos at the Perth 9s earlier this season. The Red ‘V' won two of their three regular season games last year with a 26-6 victory over the Warriors and 24-16 victory against the Roosters. The only defeats the Dragons suffered in 2019 were to the Broncos 14-4 and 30-6 in Round 1 and Grand Finals respectively.
The Dragons have kept most of their squad but have been boosted by the signing of Isabelle Kelly who joined the Dragons at the NRL9s in February and has stayed with the Red ‘V' for the NRLW season. The Saints have boosted their middle pack with the signing of Papua New Guinea international captain Elsie Albert as well as former Broncos veteran Steph Hancock heads Souths to join the Dragons.
Who to watch: Having never played a Rugby League game before, Charlotte Caslick gets put straight into the fire being named by new Roosters Coach Jamie Feeney at five-eighth. An Olympic Gold Medallist, Caslick will be used to high pressure situations given her experience as one of the top Rugby 7s players for Australia but she will no doubt come under intense scrutiny given her reputation for the competition.
Having represented both her state and country, Maddie Studdon is one of the best-known players in the NRLW. Studdon had a less than stellar first campaign with the Roosters which saw her dropped from the side for the final round and grand final. In 2019, Studdon had more success heading to the Dragons where she helped the Dragons reach the Grand Final. It will be important for both the Dragons and Studdon that she finds form with some question marks appearing in recent times over her form.
My tip: The Roosters have made a number of key signings but the Dragons still look to have the stronger team on paper. The additions of Isabelle Kelly, Steph Hancock and Elsie Albert will be a big boost to the Dragons as well, Kelly in particular has the ability to swing the game on her own. The game will be tight but the Dragons should have enough to win it. Dragons by 6.
Sydney Roosters Form Guide
Yet to play this season
Sydney Roosters Upcoming Games
St George Illawarra Dragons Form Guide
Yet to play this season