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2024 Tarsha Gale Cup season preview

2024 Tarsha Gale Cup season preview Photo - Steve Montgomery
2024 Tarsha Gale Cup season preview Photo - Steve Montgomery

2024 Tarsha Gale Cup season preview

Author : Sean Teuma, Jason Hosken and Kevin Merrigan NewsCorp Sport

2024 Tarsha Gale Cup season preview: Every club previewed ahead of U19s women’s season

The Tarsha Gale Cup is the main NRLW pathway system producing the game’s next female talents. We preview every club set to line up this year, continuing with the Penrith Panthers.

Penrith Panthers Tarsha Gale Cup side back in 2022. Picture: Dylan Arvela

Penrith Panthers Tarsha Gale Cup side back in 2022. Picture: Dylan Arvela

Penrith Panthers Tarsha Gale Cup side back in 2022. Picture: Dylan Arvela

The Tarsha Gale Cup is building a reputation as the biggest pathway from junior reps to the NRLW.

With a handful of players who made the transition from the U19s to the big time last year, the race is on to see the next young star who gets the call up.


Captain: TBA

Coach: Karen Stuart

Last year: 7th (3-1-4)

Why they will be competitive: After a slow start last season, the Panthers hit top gear with three straight wins before falling agonisingly short of the finals with a last round loss to North Sydney.

Now with a host of players returning better for the experience, pathways manager Lee Hopkins believes the well coached outfit might surprise a few people with their progress.

Key fixture: Round one (Dragons) and round two (Rabbitohs). In a season with only eight preliminary matches per side, the room for error ahead of the finals is minimal.

For the aspiring Panthers, the results of the opening fortnight against two sides that finished below them last season could prove crucial.

Julie Notise playing for local club St Marys. Picture: St Marys Rugby League

Julie Notise playing for local club St Marys. Picture: St Marys Rugby League

Players to watch:

Playmaker Jaida Staben returns to direct the traffic in the No.7 jumper. Picked up the emerging talent award last season and the goalkicking half will be determined to go one step further this year and guide Penrith to the finals.

Fellow emerging talent award winner Montana McLean is another making a return, and the classy hooker is expected to compliment Staben with duties around the ruck.

Rugby league rookie Julie Notise is a proven try scorer who could well become a surprise packet of the competition. Led the way for tries in her first season with St Marys under-17s last year, and with great awareness and strength can light up a contest from fullback or centre.


Aaliyah Tah-Apiata, Abigail Jayto, Beatres Luka, Bethany To’o, Chloe Patrick, Daisy McKeon, Danielle Manuel, Ellyssa Myers, Faith Ryder, Gemma King, Hannah Talahiva, Jaida Staben, Jalice Brown, Jayla Dicker, Jemma Casey, Julie Notise, Kirby Maslin, Lakishar Whata-Fepuleai, Lily-Ann Abboud, Mackenzie Doust, Mele Siale, Mesha Fretton, Montana McLean, Summer Jitoko, Taylor Keppie, Vineta Tiatia, Zharia Hukui


Captain: TBA

Coach: Isaac Michael

Last year: 8th (3-1-4)

Why they will be competitive: Cronulla weren’t far off the pace last season and will be eager to take another step forward and play finals footy.

They have a number of quality performers returning and a wealth of representative experience on the books. Turned plenty of heads in the trials and if they get out of the blocks early should feature when the whips are cracking.

Key fixture:

Tigers (round one), Eels (round two) and Raiders (round three). With their opening three games at home Cronulla have a dream start to the season, and after knocking off the Tigers in the trials they are perfectly placed to make a strong start.

Tia-Jordan Vasilovski in action for Cronulla in the Tarsha Gale Cup trials. Picture: Steve Montgomery

Tia-Jordan Vasilovski in action for Cronulla in the Tarsha Gale Cup trials. Picture: Steve Montgomery

Players to watch: Cronulla pack plenty of punch upfront and will be even stronger with the addition of Manilita Takapautolo from the Bulldogs.

Tough to handle, the Australian Schoolgirls rep is a beast on the edge and offers leadership qualities from her stint as skipper at Westfield Sports High last season.

Destined for higher honours, Takapautolo is also a Cronulla NRLW development player.

Tia-Jordyn Vasilovski is another former Aussie schoolgirls rep. Electric down back, the pacy No.1 played Tarsha Gale last season and her aggressive competitiveness is a standout quality.

Stephanie Faulkner returns for another season after the lock took out Cronulla’s gong as 2023 female pathways player of the year.

Tough and uncompromising, Faulkner has impressed judges far and wide and was rewarded with a spot in the NSW Sky Blues academy squad.

Squad (trials):

Tia Jordyn Vasilovski, Raphaela Stojoski, Grace Regan Naituyaga, Joy Levy, Arianna Ruwoldt, Marnie Isemonger, Koolee Harbour, Faith Vili, Sage Gray, Stephanie Faulkner, Jaydika Tafua, Kelsey Wilson, Charlotte Boyle, Lailah Sheridan, Jacinta Leverance, Sienna Greck, Leilani Havea, Sienna Price, Ariana Harden, Liliana Reardon, Alena Pale Eli, Tia Parkes, Ava Cahill, Tegan Jenkins, Tarnee Ingram


Captain: Sienna Deeley

Coach: Luke Phillips

Why they will competitive: Phillips brings experience playing and being involved at the elite level, and with a number of players coming from different regions, he believes they have been able to connect well.

“We’ve got girls from North Queensland, Newcastle and the Central Coast area. It’s a mixed bag side,” he said.

“They’ve come together really well. Normally girls get cut and comes to Norths, but this year the girls want to be at the club.

“In the past we haven’t always had that competitive side. A number of players will be a year young and this will be a learning curve for them. We want to keep them together.

“We’ve had the same squad the whole way through. The North Queensland girls have brought a lot of fun and everyone has had a good chance to gel, and they’re all getting along really well.

Lalita Kris of the North Sydney Bears Tarsha Gale Cup side. Picture: James Baird

Lalita Kris of the North Sydney Bears Tarsha Gale Cup side. Picture: James Baird

“They’re learning a lot about defence. I’m a defensive coach so we want to see how we go.”

Key fixture:

Roosters (round one). The Bears will face off with the competition heavyweights straight away and they’re looking to put in a good performance. They’re keen for an early test against the defending premiers.

Players to watch: Lalita Kris is a talented halfback and one that will be closely monitored by NRLW scouts.

She has a great kicking game, can kick goals from the sideline and is a sharp player. Sienna Deeley returns after playing Harvey Norman last year.

She’s a real leader who has all the characteristics to play NRLW. She’ll start at lock and move into the front row.

Final squad:

Alexis Rose, April Major, Brodie Pleasance, Bronte Morrison, Caitlan Pesamino, Caroline Taufo, Charli Pitstock, Charlize Barrett, Emily Audet, Emily Butler, Emily Vella, Erin Sheehy, Hayley Patterson, Jess Palmer, Jessica Stevens, Kate Goodhand, Lalita Kris, Latisha Kaitap, Olivia McDonald, Rhiannon Slater, Seiloni Falifolau, Shanay Fahey, Sienna Deeley, Taliah McPherson, Tazma Allison, Teearna Williams


India Dyball is one to watch for the Canberra Raiders Tarsha Gale side. Picture: Canberra Raiders Media

India Dyball is one to watch for the Canberra Raiders Tarsha Gale side. Picture: Canberra Raiders Media

Captain: India Dyball

Coach: Nicole Fleming

Last season: 6th (4-1-3, eliminated in finals week one)

Why they’ll be competitive: The Raiders have retained a couple of key players that helped them achieve a finals berth in 2023, but for the most part it’s a fresh side coming into season 2024.

“We’re excited to have a very young team all raring to go, with players all across the field that can contribute to wins,” Fleming said.

“Being a younger team, a lot of this season will be building a platform for next year, but no doubt we’ll still be competitive and aiming for finals.

Key fixtures:

Newcastle (round one) will be an immediate test for the green machine, having been knocked out by the Knights in the elimination finals last year.

Players to watch:

Captain for this year is the returning India Dyball who’ll look for another season of impact from lock forward, having picked up the coach’s award in 2023. Elise Simpson will likely take the fullback role.

One to watch due to her rugby background, having represented the Australian Open Schoolgirls in 2023. A new recruit to watch as well is Grace Maxwell, a Cooma girl who has played a lot of footy growing up and will look to make an impact from the back row.

Squad (summer):

Indyana Bedford, Lily Bone, Heidi Brownlie, Abbey Brill, Molly Chidgey, Chloe Cooper, Lara Cosgrove, Kayla Couch, Angelina Costa, Ella Cross, Halle Constable, Alyrah Cole, India Dyball, Tanesha Dennis, Lola Fletcher, Seni Faupula, Charlotte Gray, Bridie Hampshire, Jade Harding, Lahni Hall, Layla Irving, Paige Jardine, Lilly Janota, Ella Kelly, Beth Loco, Mya McGlynn, Elka Miller, Sarah Morley, Grace Maxwell, Shania McKinnon, Samantha Nealon, Tarlay Nye, Tyrah Nye, Kiera Reid, Teagan Smede, Elise Simpson, Kaliyah Smith, Stevie Serafin, Charli Taunton, Shaelee Tobin, Erin Vuki, Ana-Ruta Vaana, Imojean Vea, Magdalena Velovski, Rubi Williamsm


Alaiyah Williams is a versatile threat for St George. Picture: Sean Teuma

Alaiyah Williams is a versatile threat for St George. Picture: Sean Teuma

Captains: Taneisha Gray & Alaiyah Williams

Coach: Craig Faulkner

Last season: 12th (2-1-6)

Why they’ll be competitive: Coach Faulkner highlights versatility and skill across the park as the strength of his side, a side which he believes is good enough to push for finals.

“We’re not a big side, so it will come down to our skillbase across the park,” Faulkner said.

“We have a lot of skilful players that can play multiple positions.

“The positives from our trial (vs Illawarra) was that we have a lot of heart, not once did the girls give up in that heat.

“Our ultimate goal is to make finals, then we can reassess when we get there.”

Key fixtures:

Illawarra (round seven) will be a test for St George, having had a taste of their strength already in a recent trial match, with Faulkner describing them as a “benchmark side”.

Dalia Nabhan is picked out as one to watch this season. Picture: Sean Teuma

Dalia Nabhan is picked out as one to watch this season. Picture: Sean Teuma

Players to watch:

The aforementioned versatility is shown with Taneisha Gray, who has the skill range to play in the back row or the halves, with her tall frame and athletic ability, combined with her on-ball skill.

Alaiyah Williams is a fullback who has come “leaps and bounds” in her ability, renowned for her toughness and competitive drive.

Dalia Nabhan is another to watch from dummy half, with her quick footwork set to “cause havoc for tired opposition defenders.”

Final squad:

Leilani Alofia, Abigail Brickwood, Chelsea Comer, Jasmine Dooley, Taneisha Gray, Christine Haddad, Chynna Hardy, Rhiannah Hunt, Juanita Jang, Brydie Kadziela, Lexis Kaleti, Ava Lavender, Manaia Maxwell-Puohotaua, Kwanna Moreton-Stewart, Remedi Morgan, Sarah Morley, Dalia Nabhan, Taylor Nickson, Jazmyn Panapa, Felicity Radinamo, Saja Rifei, Freya Scully, Amelia Semrani, Sarah Shannon, Nakiah-Jayde Smith, Tahli Struthers, Christine Tsougranis, Alaiyah Williams



Captain: TBA

Coach: Ray Windle

Last season: Premiers (9-0)

Why they will be competitive: Roosters head of pathways Blake Cavallaro coached the side last year and said there is no complacency within the playing group as they chase a third-straight title.

“There’s a lot of girls returning, including almost the entire forward pack,” he said.

“We’ve recruited some strike power across the backline and everyone is really looking forward to putting that all together in the first four rounds.

“You can see that skill level and the experienced players are giving the new faces that confidence in playing around them.

“They’re assisting the new girls coming through. The fire is definitely there in the belly.

“We’re all very aware a lot of clubs when they play against us know they’re up for a challenge. We have a goal again to be in the top four and we think we’ll be very competitive once again.”

Imogen Hei was a pivotal point of the Roosters success in 2023. Picture: Thomas Lisson

Key fixtures:

Illawarra (round five). The Steelers gave the Roosters their biggest test during the regular season last year, and a road trip down the highway will be a good test for them at the midway point of the season.

Players to watch:

Imogen Hei recently signed an NRLW contract with the club and is a highly talented dummy half. Cavallaro rates her passing game up there with the best he has seen in the female game.

The Bondi United talent knows how to attract the right players. Tyra Ekepati has come through the academy and can play at fullback or centre and has just signed an NRLW development deal.

She’s fast, electric and powerful with the ability to beat the first defender.

Aliyah Nasio played Harvey Norman last year as a 17-year-old and is an Australian Schoolgirls player who has trained with the NRLW side. She is powerful, strong and creates opportunities with her offloads.

Squad (summer):

Georgie Barrett, Summa Bermingham, Paige Bohringer, Aaliyah Boland, Moanlei Brown, Sharlize Campbell, Tyra Ekepati, Delilah Eliu, Oriana Epati, Taya Floyd, Taylah Fuiava, Maicy Furner, Imogen Hei, Josie Jeffriess, Matoisha Kalepo, Ashley Ketu’u, Mele Ketu’u, Phoenix Lamese, Zoe Lee, Blessing Leota-Williams, Joy Levy, Elizabeth Lopamaua, Paige Lowe, Lourdez Luamanu, Elizabeth MacGregor, Lillie McLean, Merinda Mihajlovic, Sienna-Mae Montgomery, Lailani Montgomery, Bella Morris, Aliyah Nasio, Memphis-Cass Pati Ah-Cheung, Esther Pedro, Annabel Penny, Anabelle Ross, Sophie Smith, Caroline Taufao, Athena Vili, Katelyn Whitehead, Teearna Williams, Makalita Zammit, Angelina Ballas


Mia-Rose Walsh is a major threat in Steelers colours. Picture: Sean Teuma

Captain: Kasey Reh

Coach: Courtney Crawford

Last season: 5th (5-1-3)

Why they will be competitive: The Steelers have retained a large number of their 2023 squad that made it to finals, no doubt keen to push for the ultimate prize in 2024.

There’s a large representative footy contingent within the squad, from NRLW player Ella Koster, to Country rep Sienna Yeo, to Australian Schoolgirls reps in Kasey Reh, Evie McGrath and Indie Bostock.

“It’s a pretty balanced side, but we have a lot of strike in our outside backs and through the middle,” Crawford said.

“The goal has to be to play finals footy, we’ve got a good opportunity with this squad.

“There’s a lot of pressure on young girls at this age to be making that transition to NRLW, we’ll just be trying to help them put their best foot forward and develop into their full potential.”

Key fixtures:

Parramatta (round four) is always a juicy matchup for the Steelers, followed up by another test on the trot against Sydney (round five), a pivotal mid-season test for the Steelers.

Hope Millard is one to watch through the middle for the Illawarra Steelers. Picture: Denis Ivaneza

Players to watch:

The lightning-fast Mia-Rose Walsh was one of the form players of the competition last season, topping the Steelers’ try count with 10.

“Coaches will need to plan around marking her,” according to Crawford, as she’ll be looking to “take her game to the next level this year”.

Another returnee is Hope Millard who will also be looking to elevate her game through the middle of the forward pack. A Country rep last season, she brings great strike and maturity to the side.

One player making the jump up to Tarsha Gale from Lisa Fiaola is Maria Paseka, who’ll look to knuckle down a starting spot on the edge, either in centre or wing.

She’s been a real standout in training so far for the Steelers.

Final squad:

Charlotte Basham, Indie Bostock, Ashlyn Breust, Runi Cowan, Darcy Eade, Bianca Jones, Ella Koster, Sienna Leslie, Brielle Luccitti, Ruby Marshall, Makayla McFayden, Evie McGrath, Hope Millard, Talea Miller, Maria Paseka, Herewaka Pohatu, Rangitaiki Pohatu, Kasey Reh, Chelsea Savill, Teagan Smede, Mia Walsh, Bronte Wilson, Rhian Yeo, Sienna Yeo


Shanelle Lyons will see plenty of action for South Sydney in the Tarsha Gale Cup. Picture: Sean Teuma.

Captain: Ava Osland

Coach: Dale Jackson

Last season: 11th (2-6)

Why they will be competitive: With several handy recruits and a renewed focus on the women’s game, coach Dale Jackson expects the Rabbitohs will be in the finals mix.

“We’ve seen a greater interest across the board in players wanting to join the club’s program,” he said.

“Souths have an eye on entering a team in the NRLW down the track, and with the new facilities on offer at the Heffron Centre interest in the women’s game continues to grow.

“The side has been strengthened with several local additions and we’ve also added strength from interstate.”

Key fixtures: With a tough draw to start, Jackson is eager to see how the side stacks up in the opening month.

“In round one we play Illawarra and it will be an exciting way to start the season because I think they’ll be one of the benchmarks,” he said.

“Then we have the Bulldogs in round four, and they’re traditionally one of the better sides, so it will be a good test.”

Players to watch:

Shanelle Lyons returns stronger and faster, and with a fair share of ball promises to be a real strike weapon.

Queensland recruit Lenniece Wright is a ball playing lock with a sound kicking game, and following a taste of schoolgirl reps brings sound leadership.

Nancy Sullivan is another from the sunshine state who will add strength through the middle. While for speed and creativity around the ruck, look no further than former Steeler Jayla Commins.


Chloe Beasley, Charli Brooks, Gracie Canham, Tegan Clark, Georgie Coote, Jayla Commins, Breanna Cunningham, Kiani Duckett, Nyokah Dumas, Sophia Dungay, Malia Faioso, Scarlet Heather, Jamiah Hunt, Tamikah Joe, Zoe Kurnoth, Mikayla Langer, Pandora Lepou, Shanelle Lyons, Carlietta Ma-Chong, Haleigh McCarney, Ava Osland, Anahera Paekau, Esther Jimmy Pama, Abbie Ritchie, Mackenzie Shultz, Loti Sagigi, Milahn Situa, Nancy Sullivan, Jaydah Tofae, Lauryn-Val Tovia, Natayah Wells, Phoenix Williams, Jaminey Weatherall, Melisha Winters, Lenniece Wright


Tiana Lee-Thorne will captain Wests Tigers in the Tarsha Gale Cup. Picture Steve Montgomery

Tiana Lee-Thorne will captain Wests Tigers in the Tarsha Gale Cup. Picture Steve Montgomery

Captain: Tiana-Lee Thorne

Coach: Adel Hage

Last season: 13th (1-7)

Why they will be competitive: While they would love to make the finals, Hage said the key for the young women at the club is to develop them into elite NRLW talents.

“The development of the club and the players is the priority,” he said.

“Managing them, working with individual core skills and putting them in a position to be available to play Harvey Norman and NRLW.

“The natural ability of the team allows them to compete, but we’re not putting a priority on that (finals).

“A few will play Harvey Norman on the back end of the season and it will be a big year for them. We have a couple of NRLW contracted players and a good forward pack.

“We don’t want them to sink in the short term. The big goal is to play NRLW for the Tigers. We’ve really put a priority on their development.”

Key fixtures:

Cronulla (round one) and Roosters (round two).

With a group that hasn’t played much together, Hage is keen to see how they gel in the opener, and then carry that onto their first game at Leichhardt Oval the following week.

Players to watch:

There are big opinions on captain Tiana-Lee Thorne who has signed a three-year deal with the club.

She was close to making her NRLW debut last year and Hage believes she is “one of the next big players in the game.”

Cheyenne Baker joins the club from Newcastle where she played Tarsha Gale last year. She’s impressed so far at training and he hopes she can have an impact similar to Caitlan Johnston.

Final squad:

Abbie Hamilton, Fanaafi Fauese, Chelsea Blankenstein, Cheyenne Baker, Claudia Brown, Diane Palu, Elarnay Pele-Taula, Grace O’Reilly, Greta Alama, Iemaima Etuale, Italia Mariner, Jorja Simpson, Katie Stevens, Kristen Grima, Kristen Haskins, Lara Bush, Madison Wilson, Mikaela Finch, Molly Mamo, Myracle Matara, Shanice Talataina, Shelbi Rangi-Szabo, Sofaia Vaki, Stephanie Goodworth, Tayleah Pasili, Teleciha Ese, Tiana-Lee Thorne


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