Jillaroos Ruan Sims, Maddie Studdon and Kezie Apps delivered the World Cup trophy to Wanda Beach on Tuesday – and they expect to deliver it again later this year.
The Australian trio were in the shire to mark 100 days until the start of the women’s rugby league World Cup in November.
The Cronulla Sharks’ home ground at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Woolooware has been chosen to host all pool matches and the semi-finals starting on November 16.
For the first time in rugby league history, the women’s World Cup will be played concurrently with the men’s tournament, with both finals to feature as a double header in Brisbane on December 2.
Jillaroos coach Brad Donald named a 40-player train-on squad on Sunday as the team starts preparations to defend their World Cup title on home soil.
Jilaroos captain Sims said there was internal pressure on her side to retain the trophy.
“There’s always nerves and pressure any time you pull on the green and gold. But I feel though we have got a lot of pressure on ourselves,” she said.
“We have a fantastic, strong squad that’s just been announced this week. And I think we put enough pressure on ourselves in that space so when it comes to game time we just flow into game mode. I think it’s just more exciting than anything else.
“Of course there will be a few little nerves on the day but I dare say we’ll be able to handle it.”
Along with Australia, the women’s World Cup will involve England, Canada, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and qualifiers Cook Islands. Australia will face England and the Cook Islands in pool A with the top two teams advancing to the semi-finals.
Women’s rugby league in Australia has gained momentum over the last five years and Sims believes hosting the World Cup will help the game continue to build.
“Everything in the lead up so far has made such a huge difference to the game. We look at the level of professionalism that’s on display now, the advent of the [Auckland] Nines a few years ago and the Anzac Test match really put women’s rugby league on a pedestal,” she said.
“For the rugby league World Cup committee to decide that they want a standalone women’s tournament just shows exactly what value they see in the women’s game. It can stand on its own two feet which I think is really fantastic.
“And what’s even more spectacular is to be able to play the final and crown two world champions in the same sport on the same day, men’s and women’s, it’s unheard of. And I’m so proud that rugby league is the first one to do this.
“It’s not something I saw [happening] when I first started as a six-year-old. It’s not something that I thought was possible. And since we won that World Cup in 2013 for the first time ever, I feel like Australian women’s rugby league has been just the leading force in women’s rugby league in the world. I think we continue to build our program and to be in the position where we are now is phenomenal and an opportunity we just can’t let go.”
Australia Jillaroos 2017 rugby league World Cup train-on squad
NSW – Sam Bremner, Kezie Apps (Helensburgh Tigers), Ruan Sims, Ruby Ewe, Allana Ferguson, Corban McGregor, Jessica Sergis, Talesha Quinn (Cronulla-Caringbah Sharks), Rebecca Riley, Maddie Studdon, Nakia Davis-Welsh, Lavina O’Mealey (Redfern All Blacks), Isabelle Kelly, Caitlin Moran, Rebecca Young (North Newcastle), Simaima Taufa (Mounties), Elianna Walton (Greenacre Tigers), Vanessa Foliaki (East Brisbane Tigers), Simone Smith (Port Macquarie)
Queensland – Amelia Kuk, Zahara Temara, Kody House, Chelsea Baker, Annette Brander, Ali Brigginshaw, Jenni-Sue Hoepper, Sasha Mahuika, Asipau Mafi, Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Heather Ballinger, Brittany Breayley, Steph Hancock, Renae Kunst, Karina Brown, Sarah Walker
Affiliated States – Oneata Schwalger (Victoria), Meg Ward (Northern Territory), Maddison Bennett (Western Australia), Asiova (Eva) Karpini (South Australia)
Australian Defence Force – Lucy Lockart (Northern Territory)