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New opportunities on offer to talented young female players

A new era is dawning for female rugby league participation, with Queensland Rugby League last year announcing the introduction of the Harvey Norman Under 19 Girls competition in 2021.

Kicking off in early March, the new 12-team competition is the first time female players in this age group will be provided the opportunity to be involved in a truly statewide competition that will not only offer a new experience, but also aid in their development - both on and off the field.

When announcing the new competition, QRL competitions manager Dave Maiden said it was designed to give players a taste of what was to come if players chose to pursue a playing pathway with the BHP Premiership.

“The vision of the QRL has always been to provide equitable pathways for our male and female participants and the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition begins the statewide representative journey for our female athletes,” Maiden said.

The competition will be played within regional conferences in 2021 to complement the BHP Premiership that launched in 2020.

There are 12 competing clubs, with teams fielded by the majority of Intrust Super Cup clubs, with Townsville Blackhawks, Central Queensland Capras, Sunshine Coast Falcons, Souths Logan Magpies, Wynnum Manly Seagulls, Burleigh Bears, Northern Pride and Mackay Cutters all providing an opportunity for young female players.

They have been joined in the competition by BHP Premiership club West Brisbane Panthers, while the other new teams in the draw are Wide Bay Bulls, Ipswich and Western Mustangs.

Tweed Seagulls are no longer able to participate in this competition.

The revised draw sees all teams play three games, with Ipswich, Burleigh Bears and West Brisbane Panthers taking part in a three-way match on Saturday, April 10 for Round 5 at West Mitchelton.

In exciting news, players involved in the competition will also be able to press their claims for selection in two new representative opportunities.

As well as vying for a place in the newly-devised Under 19 National Championships, players will also have the chance to push their case for selection in the Queensland Under 19 State of Origin team and play as the curtain-raiser before the State of Origin match featuring the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons.

Players aiming for selection in the National Championships teams and the Queensland Under 19 side will be expected to play in the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition prior to playing in the BHP Premiership.  

Those who excel in the junior competition in the opening rounds will then be eligible to move up into the BHP Premiership, which kicks off in April.

QRL female pathways and performance manager Mitch Constance said selectors would also be monitoring schoolgirls competitions across the state to unearth talent.

“There are many opportunities for girls to play rugby league at a high level, with the new Harvey Norman Under 19 competition an excellent starting point for talents players to make their mark,” Constance said.

“Players who demonstrate they can play at a higher level will be encouraged to take advantage of the pathways on offer from the QRL and play in the statewide BHP Premiership where they can test their skills before taking up any representative opportunities.”

Any players keen to be involved in the Harvey Norman Under 19 Girls competition in 2021 are encouraged to register their interest with their nearest participating club.