New coach, new playing group, same mindset.
That’s the approach the Brisbane Broncos are bringing to their NRLW title defence that begins with a showdown with St George Illawarra at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday.
Headlined by hooker Brittany Breayley and Kiwi international Teuila Fotu-Moala, there will be five members of Brisbane’s premiership-winning team lining up for the Dragons while Jillaroos representative Tallisha Harden has joined the Roosters.
In their place the Broncos have added Tazmin Gray (Roosters) and Annette Brander (Dragons) but will rely on the core group of players who triumphed on grand final day last October.
Jillaroos regulars Chelsea Baker, Heather Ballinger, Ali Brigginshaw and Steph Hancock all return as well as Kiwi rep Rona Peters and Queensland stars Amber Pilley and Meg Ward but the biggest change comes in the coaches' box.
Former Kiwi Ferns mentor Kelvin Wright has taken over from Paul Dyer and has added NRL greats Corey Parker and Simon Mannering to his staff, bringing a fresh approach to a team with a target on its head.
Dragons v Broncos: NRLW Round 1
"Everyone is keeping it cool, calm and collected,” centre Amber Pilley told NRL.com,
"People think we're going into it as the underdogs. We've had staff turnover, we've had player turnover.
"Everyone's a bit pedantic about who has got the signings and the big names.
"The Roosters had the pressure last year and that obviously didn't help them when it came to games because you can have big games but it might not click initially.
"We're just trying to get to know our group, why we play, and just get to know each other because that's what helped us last year.”
Week 1 - with Chelsea Baker
After the initial flurry of player signings ahead of the inaugural NRLW season in 2018, players switching clubs is something that teams will have to be accustomed to.
The continued influx of talent and demand for elite players will create a volatile player market in the short term and Pilley believes the Broncos’ ability to adapt will be an important trait moving forward.
“This sort of stuff happens in the men's game all the time,” Pilley said of the player movement.
“We just have to embrace the change and roll with it because at the end of the day you're playing for a contract.
"You just have to roll with it and be adaptable and we do that very well.
"We're always going to push to be in the team and do what's best for the team but we shouldn't compare to last year.
"Obviously it's going to be very different but that doesn't mean it's going to be bad different.”
Working within the Beyond the Broncos program, Pilley is regularly exposed to the groundswell of young girls with dreams of one day playing in the NRLW.
The responsibility that comes with that is something that has been entrenched into the elite female players and one Pilley takes extremely seriously.
"I know that my girls are looking up to me so I've got to do the right thing always,” said Pilley, who works within schools around Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
"We have to be the role models. The action that we take is what they will follow so we have to be leading by example.
"That's what I try and think of when I play in any jersey, whether it's All Stars, Queensland or the Broncos.”