NRL 2021: St George Illawarra Dragons, James Graham, women’s coaching role, NRLW

St George Illawarra have moved to clarify the future of James Graham after he denied signing off on an agreement to work with the club following his retirement.

The Dragons released a members update on Wednesday last week claiming Graham would work with the club’s NRLW side.

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“This will lead to the better identification of talented young female footballers from our regions as well as improved development programs,” CEO Ryan Webb said.

Round 1

Buderus: New leaders ‘suit the club’


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Despite rising standard on the field, NRLW likely to remain four-club competition in 2021

“I have always wanted the women’s competition to move quicker than what it has,” V’landys said. “But we have to get to the grassroots.

“Unfortunately, one of the things we’ve been doing is we’ve been working top down; you should work bottom up.”

Brisbane celebrated another NRLW title, but it’s unlikely they’ll be facing more competition in 2021.Credit:NRL Photos

Data released by the NRL this week showed the standard of the NRLW competition continued to improve with an increase in average run metres, offloads and tries per game, as well as improvements in goalkicking accuracy. Post-contact metres also increased compared to last season by 15.8 per cent.

A number of clubs have shown interest in joining the NRLW, but many have been deterred by the price tag of about $500,000. The Raiders have lodged an expression of interest for 2021, while the Knights have applied for the 2022 season.

Last year, the NRL stepped in to fund the entire competition to elevate financial pressure on NRLW clubs after the Roosters and the Warriors flagged that they would not be able to fund a women’s team during the COVID-19 pandemic.

V’landys said the existing four clubs will be partially subsided in 2021, but the NRL would not be looking to introduce new clubs. He said an announcement on the exact NRLW budget would be made in the “next couple of weeks”.


During the NRL’s announcement of the 2021 draw for the men’s game, chief executive Andrew Abdo said the game would not be focusing on expanding the number of NRLW clubs.

“It would be unrealistic to expect clubs to prepare for the 2021 season and have an expansion in the number of teams but, of course, the commission have asked us to look at everything and we’ll do the homework,” he said last week.

“We’ll look at business cases, we’ll look at the sustainability, the talent and we’ll make sure we keep investing in the quality of the product and our athletes who at this stage are semi-professional, so we’ll look at all of that and then be able to make a decision.”

Abdo also said the NRL was considering pushing the women’s Origin series from one game to two, with a game in Queensland and NSW.

“That’s a conversation we’re having with state governments and the two state leagues,” Abdo said. “What we’re seeing is high-quality football and the fans want to see more of it.”

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NRLW extension considered for 2021

A longer NRLW season is being considered for 2021 after a directive from the ARL Commission to improve the women’s competition.

The NRLW was set for an extension this year before the COVID-19 shutdown but plans for more games are back on the table with the NRL.

On Thursday NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the NRLW competition would look different next year and would be played at the back end of the men’s season.

Currently the NRLW coincides with the NRL finals across four weeks.

An increase from the four NRLW teams is unlikely for next season but extending the competition from three weeks to six plus a grand final is logical.

“The women’s premiership will be played at the back end of the men’s regular season but it will look different in 2021,” Abdo said.

“We are thinking of ways in which we can expand and amplify and grow this competition.”

The NRL is working through options to present to the ARLC and chairman Peter V’landys for approval.

Also on the table is increasing the women’s State of Origin from one match to three in coming seasons, however, not for 2021.

The women’s Origin match has been scheduled for a return to mid-season, along with the men’s series, although a venue is yet to be decided.

“In the off-season the commission instructed us to think about how we can invest in our female league pathway,” Abdo said.

“The NRLW is just one aspect of that.

“But what we’re seeing is high quality football and our fans want to see more of it, so thinking about how we expand the rounds and then ultimately our teams is a priority.

“It would be unrealistic to expect our clubs to prepare for the 2021 season and have an expansion on the number of teams, so it’s more likely we’ll have an expansion in the number of games.

“But the commission has asked us to look at everything, we’ll do the homework, we’ll look at the sustainability the business cases and the talent and make sure that we’re still investing in the quality of the product and our athletes who at this stage are semi professional.”

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NRLW expansion needs to come ahead of State of Origin

The NRLW runs for just three weeks and a grand final, while the Harvey Norman Premiership ran across seven rounds with a finals series. In Queensland, the equivalent competition, the Holcim Cup, also runs longer than the NRLW season.

The state premierships are important for women’s rugby league – as it allows players to develop their game, show off what they can do and how they can adapt over a longer time frame.

I know how being overlooked hurts – because it happened to me.

It was 2018 and I had just come off a strong season with the Sharks in the Harvey Norman Premiership and Nationals for NSW Country.

But my performance in the NRLW grand final wasn’t as good as it could have been. I was overlooked for the Jillaroos as a result.

As we head into next week’s game, the story of Dibb and Studdon can stand as a reminder to the code to consider expanding the NRLW.

More Origin would be incredible – it’s a real showcase of some of the best in our game.

Maddie Studdon has been dropped from the Blues side despite being named player of the match in Origin last year.Credit:NRL Photos

But right now, an expansion of the NRLW, with more rounds, more clubs on board and more time on-field would create the marquee competition we need.

It would provide a platform for the best talent in our game to develop and prove themselves in the eyes of selectors.


In short, our female players would have more time to show off their best.

In the men’s game, if you’re not performing in first grade you’re dropped back into reserves. If you are, you are lifted up.

This is a great relationship that could be developed between the Premiership in NSW, the Holcim Cup in Queensland and the NRLW so players could have more opportunity to impress.

If that is done, players can grow. Teams can grow. The supporter base and eyeballs on the game will grow.

Our competitiveness internationally, which sees 80 minutes of game time compared to 60 minutes in an NRLW game, will go to a new level.

Earlier in the week, Blues skipper Kezie Apps described the dropping of Dibb and Studdon as an example of the talent coming through the women’s game.

Imagine what we would see if there was simply more of it.

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Ballerina-turned-weightlifter Tandia Wood helps Brisbane Broncos women’s team to NRLW victory

As a child, Tandia Wood dreamt of a life on the stage, dressed in tutus and pointe shoes, pushing her body to the limit amid the pain and euphoria of ballet.

As an adult Wood still pushes her body to the limit, but has swapped the ballet barre for the weightlifting bar and works alongside some of the best female athletes in Australia.

Wood, 23, is the strength coach for the Brisbane Broncos women’s rugby league team, which claimed its third straight NRLW premiership last month.

The Toowoomba-born weightlifting coach said she discovered her love of working with female athletes after completing an internship with the Brisbane Broncos NRL team in 2018.

Brisbane Broncos women’s assistant strength coach Tandia Wood demonstrates her weightlifting prowess.(Supplied: Tandia Wood)

“They asked me to stay on and do some work with the NRLW in their inaugural year and that was just the most incredible experience,” Wood said.

“Up until that point, I hadn’t worked with female athletes before, so it was totally different for me.

“They want to know exactly what they’re doing for what reason and I love that.”

Now living in Brisbane, Wood works three days a week in the gym with the team and preps the gym program.

“We had quite a short pre-season and season leading into this year, so the girls trained three to four times a week and they were in the gym two to three of those days,” she said.

Ballet pirouettes to footy pivots

Tandia Wood ballet performance
Tandia Wood’s first love was ballet — until weightlifting caught her attention.(Supplied: Tandia Wood)

Rugby league was not the path Wood had envisioned for herself.

“When I was younger, I actually thought I was going to be a ballet dancer, professionally. That’s what I wanted to do,” Wood said.

“Then I just decided to segue a little bit and go to university and study sport and exercise science.”

Wood said using science to prepare players had a huge impact on their performance.

She said increased scientific research meant strength and conditioning training could be tailored to prepare athletes for specific sports.

“For the NRLW girls, we are literally working with them in the gym to get them strong, and appropriately so, for their field,” she said.

The Brisbane Bronco's celebrate their third consecutive NRLW title
The Brisbane Bronco’s women’s team after winning their third NRLW title on October 25, 2020.(Supplied: NRL)

Wood said she hoped to continue working in the NRLW next year after contributing to the Broncos’ third premiership.

“I think a lot of that credit goes to Kelvin Wright, the head coach,” she said.

“He has created such an excellent organisation, from picking the players of the team to ensure that they’ve worked so well together, to picking the staff members as well.”

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Brisbane Broncos NRLW captain Ali Brigginshaw slams Roosters over ‘dirty’ social media post

“Come captain’s run, the girls were seeing red,” Brigginshaw said. “The women’s game is a very, I would say, clean social media space.

“I just think there is no room for it, there’s no need for it and if you’re going to keep doing it there is no room for you in this game.”

Ali Brigginshaw was named the Dally M female player of the year last Monday.Credit:NRL Photos

The Jillaroos star was instrumental in the decider on Sunday, with a silky pass to Tallisha Harden in the 44th minute bringing home the win for the Queensland side.

Brigginshaw said the post “made the tensions very high” ahead of the game and said it pushed the Broncos to bank a third straight title. She also said the player’s Roosters teammates should have had a word to her about the post.

“Someone close to her should probably give her the heads up,” she said. “I would go over there and tell you to take it off.”

After the game, Brigginshaw was quickly whisked away for a post-game interview and said she was disappointed to not be able to have a word with the player.

The Broncos took out their third NRLW title after beating the Roosters 20-10 in the decider on Sunday afternoon. 

The Broncos took out their third NRLW title after beating the Roosters 20-10 in the decider on Sunday afternoon. Credit:Getty

The 30-year-old said she believed the post was the result of “immaturity”.

“When you’re young you say things and you don’t realise what you’ve said means something to someone else,” she said. “Hopefully, she learns and I have it all saved if anything were to come [of it further].”

Brigginshaw said her message to the player was that there was “no need for it in the game”.


“I know you’re a talented girl and you want to go far but social media is not a way for you to get your name out there and say hurtful things or negative things around other players,” she said.

Brigginshaw won the 2020 Dally M female player of the year award last Monday, an achievement considered long overdue by most.

She was just the second Bronco to win the award and is widely considered the best female player to have ever played the game.

Under Brigginshaw, the Broncos have lost just one game and won all three premierships in the NRLW’s three-year history.

It was the second grand final loss for the Roosters, who went down to the Broncos 34-12 in 2018’s inaugural NRLW decider.

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Brisbane Broncos win third straight NRLW premiership with narrow win over Sydney Roosters

The Brisbane Broncos have underlined their status as the preeminent force in women’s rugby league, securing a 20-10 victory over the Sydney Roosters to claim their third-straight NRLW premiership at a sopping wet Olympic stadium.

The Roosters enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the tough conditions, but the Broncos were cleaner with the ball in attack.

The Broncos have lost just one game in the three-year history of the NRLW.

More to come.

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NRL grand final live: NRLW decider between Broncos and Roosters kicks off Sunday rugby league action

The Penrith Panthers have been the best team in the NRL for most of the year, but the grand final sees them face their biggest test in the form of an in-form Melbourne Storm side.

Before tonight’s game, the Brisbane Broncos will try to three-peat in the NRLW grand final against the Roosters.

Follow all the action in our live blog.

Live updates

By Jon Healy

32nd minute: Monster defence from the Broncos in the first set of the half. Probably lying on them a bit too long.


And the Roosters are serving it back up to them. The tacklers are winning every collision right now and both teams have kicked from their own side of halfway.

By Jon Healy

We’re into the last 30 minutes of the NRLW season!

By Jon Healy

Favouritism for the Storm



I’ve been surprised by how many pundits are picking the Storm to roll the Panthers in tonight’s men’s final after the season Penrith just had.



Have people not watched Penrith this year? Do they think the 17 straight wins were 17 straight flukes?


Watching the preliminary finals last year, after the Storm’s point-a-minute opening 24 minutes against the Raiders, the Green Machine did some real damage through the middle and if they hadn’t bombed at least three tries out wide that game and our opinion of the Storm could be drastically changed.


Meanwhile, Penrith was very impressive in bouncing back from a 10-0 deficit in the opening minutes of their first final against the Roosters, but were admittedly sloppy in the prelim against Souths.


I understand that Melbourne is a more experienced outfit and a side having a breakout regular season and then getting GF jitters is a pretty cliched story, but I just don’t see that happening to this Penrith side.

By Jon Healy

HALF-TIME: Brisbane leads the Roosters 12-10

The Roosters’ last-ditch charge at the line was thwarted by a massive hit by Raecene McGregor that jolted the ball loose. So the Broncos keep their lead, but only just. What a fightback by the Roosters.


The Broncos looked untouchable for the first quarter of the game, but this Roosters side refused to go away, and now it’s set up for a banger of a second half.

By Jon Healy

29th minute: The Roosters got six again right on Brisbane’s line, but a wayward pass almost cost them. Fortunately the Broncos knocked on in trying to swoop on the ball, so they’ll attack again.

By Jon Healy

28th minute: The Broncos are called offside out wide and the Roosters won’t take a shot for the tie from over 30 metres out. They want more points with half-time looming.

By Jon Healy


By Jon Healy


Quincy Dodd is in off the back of a charge from her forwards. They put the team on the tryline, and Dodd just drove her legs from dummy half to touch down.


And just like that, it’s 12-10 and the Roosters are right back in it.

By Jon Healy

26th minute: Roosters fullback Botille Vette-Welsh splits Raecene McGregor and Jayme Fressard for the all-important break and Melanie Howard’s kick into space behind Ciesiolka gets another repeat set.

By Jon Healy

24th minute: The Broncos kicked from inside their 40 in the opening exchanges, but since then, I can’t remember them ending a set before halfway.


That time Brigginshaw looked set to kick from the 30 but they rushed up and she almost created an overlap.

By Jon Healy

22nd minute: Sarah Togatuki has knocked on in trying to play the ball again, and she’s convinced captain Corban McGregor to challenge it again, but this time her senses are off.

By Jon Healy

21st minute: Brigginshaw is called for a strip with two players in the tackle, but I’m not sure there were. I’m pretty sure she’d plucked it by the time the second player arrived.

By Jon Healy

19th minute: The Broncos are working it out of their territory with relative ease – out wide and in the middle.


Brigginshaw ends the set with a tidy bomb out wide, testing the wingers in the rain for the first time, but Shanice Parker is up to it.

By Jon Healy


Just a simple right-side shift in the wet and Yasmin Meakes holds off opposing centre Julia Robinson to dive in out wide.


Ciesiolka probably should have come off her wing to help out, but alas, the Roosters are back in the game.


But no goal from Zahara Temara, and the Broncos lead 12-4.

By Jon Healy

14th minute: The Roosters have been called for a knock-on here, but it’s been challenged, and I reckon wisely too.


Back rower Sarah Togatuki was adamant she hadn’t knocked on despite Ali Brigginshaw’s appeals, and she was spot on.

By Jon Healy

12th minute: Back to back penalties for the Roosters as Lauren Brown is pinged for a strip.

And five-eighth Melanie Howard gets them another set with a perfectly weighted grubber that Broncos winger Shenae Ciesiolka just managed to tap dead.

By Jon Healy


Big back rower Amber Hall got the ball from Tarryn Aiken with a head of steam and I thought she’d bombed it when she failed to find her winger, but the big bopper slid over in the wet.


Vanessa Foliaki has a lot to answer for on that try. Look, I wouldn’t want to try to tackle Amber Hall either, but she was moving backwards and sliding across too slowly. Aiken just had to pop it to her back rower and it was over.

By Jon Healy

8th minute: Broncos centre Julia Robinson makes a half break and Brisbane is on the attack again.

By Jon Healy

BOOM! Try time for Tamika Upton!

Halfback Tarryn Aiken with that Lockyer-esque swerve to get around Nita Maynard and of course, looming up like all the great fullbacks, was Tamika Upton.


Hardly surprising that it was those two former touch teammates who linked up for the opener.


By Jon Healy

3rd minute: The Roosters are making better ground through the middle and have the better of the field position battle early.


But it’s wasted as Simaima Taufa tries to link up with fellow prop Filomina Hanisi, and it doesn’t go well. You can’t revoke a passing license can you?

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Brisbane Broncos Women vs Sydney Roosters Women Tips and Teams – NRLW Grand Final 2020

Brisbane Broncos Women host
Sydney Roosters Women
at ANZ Stadium on Sunday October 25, 2020. Brisbane Broncos Women are favourites for the game which is scheduled to start at 4:05 pm. We preview the game and give you our tips and information on how you can watch the Brisbane Broncos Women vs.
Sydney Roosters Women
game live.

When: Sunday October 25, 2020 at 4:05 pm

Where: ANZ Stadium

Bet: Bet On This Match HERE

Brisbane Broncos Women vs Sydney Roosters Women Odds

Brisbane Broncos Women vs Sydney Roosters Women Preview

What will Sunday’s NRLW Grand Final have in store for us?

Will the Broncos win for a third straight year or can the Roosters cause an upset?

The odds are all pointing towards the Broncos and given their dominance over the competition it’s hard to disagree.

Backing Brisbane in what should be a good game.

Brisbane Broncos Women vs Sydney Roosters Women Tip

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Broncos outclass Roosters in NRLW grand final preview

When the scores were close, Brisbane’s biggest names stepped up. Ali Brigginshaw set up form fullback Tamika Upton to open up some breathing space before the halfback scored an individual try of her own. The Dally M medal could finally be within the Jillaroos captain’s grasp.

Shannon Mato was promoted to starting prop for the Broncos and will likely retain her place after this performance. By the time she came off after her first stint, she had already churned through 90 metres from 10 runs.

Broncos skipper Ali Brigginshaw charges into the Roosters defence.Credit:Getty

It set the platform for the Broncos to open up a 12-0 lead courtesy of two converted tries in just three minutes.

Tarryn Aiken scored the first, despite suggestions of an obstruction and a double movement in the lead up. There was no doubt about the second, a perfectly executed backline sweep to the right from a centrefield scrum. Meg Ward finished off the movement and then slotted a sideline conversion to open up a commanding lead.

The Roosters finished the half with 54 per cent possession but had only one try to show for it. It came courtesy of Taleena Simon in her return season. With son Eli watching on, the winger crossed to raise hopes of an upset. It wasn’t enough.

In the earlier match, St George Illawarra went from runners up last year to wooden spooners after a 22-10 loss to the Warriors. It ends a disappointing season for the injury-hit Dragons, who didn’t manage to win a game all year. The joint-venture outfit could field only 16 players against in a fast and open encounter.

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