This article was first written for and published by NRL.com.
For the stars of NRLW, spots in the grand final isn’t the only thing on offer this weekend.
The season isn’t over on October 6, there’s still the World Cup Nines and end-of-year Test match to be played.
That means players from all four NRLW teams still have plenty ahead of them.
The four-team Downer World Cup Nines at Bankwest Stadium on October 18-19 takes place the weekend before the Jillaroos play the Kiwi Ferns.
That means Test jerseys are up for grabs over the next two weekends.
At the conclusion of the 2018 NRLW season, the Jillaroos team selected demonstrated a real changing of the guard with stalwarts including Maddie Studdon and Ruan Sims missing out.
Karina Brown was also set to miss out but was a late inclusion following an injury to Sammy Bremner.
Debuts were handed to the likes of Hannah Southwell, Julia Robinson and Holli Wheeler.
The standard of this year’s NRLW has increased significantly and I have no doubt there are other women in line to make their Jillaroos debut next month.
Millie Boyle from the Broncos is one of those women. She has already worn the green and gold, representing Australia in rugby union. She has been a standout in the 13-a-side game.
Her work rate is impressive, averaging 115 metres and 19 tackles per game. The Broncos lost several members of their forward pack after last season but Boyle has had no trouble stepping up into that role.
Another player many saw for the first time during State of Origin was Tiana Penitani.
Penitani has already represented Australia in rugby 7s but has been an attacking force for the Dragons in 2019. To date she has eight tackle-breaks, one try and makes 87 metres per game.
There are several other women in contention too including the likes of Amber Pilley, Botille Vette-Welsh, Kirra Dibb, Quincy Dodd and Shakiah Tungai.
But before all that, there is the battle for spots in the NRLW grand final to play for in this weekend’s final round.
Brisbane are in the box seat and the Roosters need things to go their way, but mathematically all four teams remain in contention.
A narrow loss this weekend will still be enough to book Brisbane a spot in the decider. If they get that far they’ll play for a second-straight title.
The first stand-alone match in NSW provides a great chance for fans to get out and watch the Dragons and Roosters do battle.
A sunny spring day should ensure a good crowd to watch these women press their cases for NRLW grand final and international honours.
Leichhardt Oval is a venue which must be on every rugby league fan’s bucket list and I know that many of the players are looking forward to a stand-alone fixture.
While stand-alone matches are great there are benefits to playing matches before the men’s NRL Finals fixtures including broadcast arrangements and exposure to a big group of fans.
However, this game gives fans of women’s rugby league the chance to celebrate the competition on its own merit. Let’s not forget it wasn’t too long ago that more than 10,000 fans attended the women’s State of Origin at North Sydney Oval.
So if you’re based in Sydney I encourage you to get to the game. You will no doubt be watching some of Australia’s stars of the future.