JILLAROOS star Kezie Apps believes St George Illawarra’s bid for inclusion in the inaugural NRL women’s league is a “no-brainer” given the club’s efforts in growing the women’s game.
Submissions for inclusion in the new competition, expected to feature at least five teams, closed on Friday with the Dragons formalising their bid this week.
Apps began her league journey with Helensburgh in 2014, making a weekly 10-hour round trip from Bega to play in the Illawarra women’s competition.
She’s since risen through the ranks to earn NSW and Australian Test jumpers, along with a host of other Illawarra league alumni, and said the region deserves to represented on the elite stage.
“It’s awesome the club has put forward its interest, it’s one of the only clubs that have really supported the women’s game for a long, long time,” Apps said.
“I know how much work the club puts into trying to build from the grassroots around the Illawarra and up to the St George areas as well.
“They’ve been involved for a long time so I had no doubt the Dragons would be one of the first teams to put their hand up to say they wanted a women’s side.
“Being a Dragons ambassador I’ve seen what the club actually does in the community and in growing female participation so it was a no-brainer they’d do it.
“Hopefully [the bid] will be successful. I love being a part of what they do in the community and through schools so I’d love to play for the Dragons.”
Confirmation the NRL would launch a women’s league came hot on the heels of last year’s successful Women’s World Cup, but Apps admits she had thought it may still be a number of years away.
“I thought is was maybe another two years down the track before it would happen,” she said.
“It’s great for girls like myself and some others who’ve been around for a little while that we actually get to experience the NRL series and be a part of the inaugural women’s competition.
“I wasn’t sure I’d still be around playing when it all came together so I’m really glad it’s here now and I’m really excited for everything to start happening.
“It’s a bit of a step into the unknown as well so it’s a little bit scary but exciting at the same time knowing we’re going to be making history again in another aspect of the women’s game.”
The competition is tipped to be held over 4-6 weeks in conjunction with the NRL finals series.
Up to six licenses are on offer with the Broncos, Sharks, Rabbitohs and Roosters all declaring their push for inclusion.
Apps is confident the game has developed enough to feed the required talent into the new elite league.
“I know that we have the depth for it,” Apps said.
“There’s girls coming in from the [under 18s] Tarsha Gale Cup who could play in the opens.
“I know their skills and abilities have increased a lot in the last year or two and I’ve got no doubt they’ll take that opportunity.
“That was the idea with those competitions to have that pathway and to have a goal to aim for.
“Hopefully, seeing they have something to strive for, we get more girls wanting to play rugby league instead of AFL, soccer or cricket and the other women’s sports going great guns at the moment.”