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CQ Women to debut at Battalion

Nick Kossatch - The Gladstone Observer

Gladstone Raidettes
Kara Moore, Chelsea Baker, Nadine Day and Sarah Stewart are a part of the Gladstone Raidettes team. PHOTO: Paul Braven (Gladstone Observer)

In what is a huge boost for women's sport in the Central Queensland region, Gladstone and Rockhampton will field stand-alone women's teams for the first time in the 47th Battalion on Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30 in Yeppoon.

The announcement of the teams was quite fitting last week following International Women's Day and MP Glenn Butcher, a staunch supporter of league in Gladstone, expressed his delight on Facebook.

"What a great day for Rugby League in Gladstone. Also great to see plenty of original foundation Raidettes still in the Rep team,” Butcher said.

One of the original members is Sarah Stewart and she said it gives females a chance to shine on the big stage.

"A lot of our players were overlooked in the past, but now this gives girls the chance to play at that level,” Stewart said.

The female Capras, which consisted of players mostly from Rockhampton and Gladstone, competed in last year's 47th Battalion, but now the two towns will have their own teams.

Raidettes and Rockhampton Rustlers will join Central Highlands, Bundaberg, Toowoomba and Sunshine Coast in the two-day event where the top two placed teams play-off in the decider on the Sunday.

"It's been a hard road and good to see that a nine of the originals are in this representative squad,” Stewart said.

Star Australian Jillaroo Chelsea Baker said the profile of women's sport is on the increase.

"Obviously (we are) getting more exposure and women's rugby league is the fastest growing sport,” Baker said.

"Also because of the success in women's sport in general with AFL, cricket and soccer (shown on TV).”

Queensland Rugby League Operations Manager Peter White said Gladstone's 26-woman squad would be culled back to 19.

There is also a big incentive to perform.

"From the 47th Battalion, they will then pick a Central Crows team which will play in the State Championships later this year,” White said.

The 47th Battalion draw for both men and women is set to be released by Central Division in the coming days.

*This story first appeared in The Gladstone Observer