With an NRLW squad featuring a number of representatives from the Central Coast Roosters and Tarsha Gale Cup sides, it's fair to say that Head Coach John Strange has witnessed the cultivation of talent from the Sydney Roosters’ Pathways system first-hand.
In his first year at the helm, Strange is a familiar face to many in the Sydney Roosters NRLW squad and for good reason – his Central Coast Roosters side have yet to be defeated in the Harvey Norman Women's Premiership as of the time of writing.
According to the man himself, the 2021 NRLW squad is one of great balance, with a mix of representative stars, experienced campaigners and enthusiastic rookies throughout.
“I’m very happy with it,” Strange said.
“It’s a very well-balanced squad. We’ve got plenty of speed and skill in the outside backs and we’ve got a really tough forward pack that will get us going.
“It’s the balance of the squad that makes it exciting. From our front rowers all the way through to our backs, there isn’t one area that is more dominant than another.
We’re the only Club with a Pathways system for the NRLW in the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership and Tarsha Gale Cup and we’re really proud of that.John Strange Sydney Roosters NRLW Head Coach
“Having Mya Hill-Moana, Sarah Togatiki and Hannah Southwell is going to be great for the forward pack. We’ve got three talented halves in our squad with Zahara Temara, Jocelyn Kelleher and Corban Baxter. Isabelle Kelly has returned, Jess Sergis has come over, and we’ve got Yasmin Meakes and Brydie Parker as well in the backline, so there’s strike all over the park.
“But the thing that’s most important for me is that it’s a balanced squad.”
As a number of Central Coast Roosters and Tarsha Gale Cup members look to establish themselves as NRLW stars of the future, Strange is looking to solidify a similar gameplan and style throughout all three grades to ensure future success for the Tricolours.
“You look at the players in our pathways squads that are coming through, and immediately you realise that it’s really important that our style in the NRLW needs to be similar to that,” he said.
“We’ve got players like Tayla Predebon, Olivia Kernick, and our two hookers in Olivia Higgins and Shawden Burton coming from the Central Coast Roosters. Having players like Jocelyn Kelleher and Isabelle Kelly coming back to the Roosters is great as well, and we’re looking for them to continue their form in the NRLW side.
“The fact that we’re going to have a number of our Tarsha Gale Cup players come in as development players is promising as well. We want to get them into the squad and have them understand our systems and the level of training and preparation required to play NRLW.
“We’re the only Club with a Pathways system for the NRLW in the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership and Tarsha Gale Cup and we’re really proud of that. We’ve got players from both those teams in our top NRLW squad.”
As for what Roosters Members and supporters can expect from the women in Red, White and Blue, Strange says that there will be plenty of determination and attitude that will be driven by their ultimate goal – to claim the NRLW Premiership.
“It’s going to be a style where everyone understands their role on the field,” he stated.
“We’ve got players who have the right attitude who will work for everything and work for one another in both attack and defence. We believe we have brought in the right players, even those who haven’t yet played in the NRLW.
“We’ve also got Blake Cavallaro – who has done a great job with our Tarsha Gale Cup side – and Kylie Hilder – who is the current NSW Blues coach – as assistants and I’m really looking forward to working with those two and having their experience.
“I’m very much looking forward to the season, and we’re looking to take home that maiden NRLW title.”
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