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QRL releases BHP Premiership draw

Statewide women’s rugby league is set to make a momentous return in 2021 with eight teams to contest the BHP Premiership.

The BHP Premiership kicks off on the weekend of April 10-11 and will showcase the state’s leading female talent over seven fixture rounds with the finals to be played across two weekends.

Anticipation is already building ahead of the new season after the inaugural competition was cancelled after just one round this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adding to the excitement is the inclusion of the Valleys Diehards, who effectively replace Ipswich Brothers following their withdrawal from the competition.

“We were excited to launch the BHP Premiership in 2020, so we were very disappointed when all of our competitions got cancelled, but we are happy to see it back and great to see most teams survive,” competitions manager Dave Maiden said.

“We want to thank Brothers Ipswich for their contribution in the female space and for delivering a professional program for 2020, but unfortunately, they were unable to continue in 2021.

“They have been replaced by Valleys Diehards who will be guided by Scott Prince and they have recruited well, so it’s going to be a very strong competition.

“There’s going to be some great opportunities for our females to progress; they can play in the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition leading up to this, so I am very excited about what we are going to see in 2021.”

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The Valleys club is steeped in rugby league tradition and there will be no shortage of prominent names in their line-up. Notable signings including Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons captain Ali Brigginshaw and Jamie-Lee Lewis; the daughter of former Valleys, Queensland and Australian great Wally Lewis.

Two former Queensland Origin players will be guiding the fortunes of rival clubs in 2021, with Scott Prince at the helm of Valleys and Adrian Vowles guiding the Brisbane Tigers.

Valleys open their campaign against the North Queensland Gold Stars, while the Tigers are up against the Burleigh Bears.

Tweed Seagulls go head-to-head with Souths Logan Magpies, and West Brisbane Panthers are at home to the Central Queensland Capras in a blockbuster weekend of Round 1 matches.

Fans will be given more opportunity to tune into a live BHP Premiership match as part of the QRL’s new multi-channel broadcast strategy announced on Wednesday.

“You can’t beat live footy, so get out to your local ground and watch them; but certainly our new multi-channel broadcast strategy is something we are very excited to bring and the opportunity to spread that to all consumers of the game across a whole range of different platforms is very exciting,” Maiden said.

“There will be a heap of double headers, to make sure we maximise our opportunities to expose our programs and our participants to a broader audience.

"The vast majority of BHP Premiership matches will be the key component to partner up with the Intrust Super Cup teams in the middle part of the season leading into the State of Origin match.”

The action on the field is poised to go to a new level in 2021, with the length of each half increased from 30 minutes to 35 in line with the State of Origin rules, as well as the introduction of the six-again rule.

There will also be a maximum of 10 interchanges.