Vipers coach Marty Lyden says it’s disappointing the Orange club won’t make its senior Western Women’s Rugby League debut this weekend.
A lack of numbers has meant the teal and blacks have had to withdraw from the 2019 premiership, which kicks off this Saturday.
The top grade will now have five sides – Dubbo Goannas, Woodbridge Cup, Castlereagh as well as Mudgee and the newly former Panorama Platypi.
The under 18s and under 15s competitions will have the full compliment of six teams, including the Vipers.
Mudgee and Panorama will appear in their first WWRL seasons after the title-winning senior Group 10 side from 2018 was forced to split into three.
The Vipers have suffered the most from the split.
“Very disappointed. We were only looking at around nine players,” Lyden said.
“A lot of the girls from the Group 10 side last year have either moved on or didn’t want to play in a split competition.”
Saturday’s opening round kicks off at Canowindra when the Woodbridge Cup’s three grades host Mudgee.
Woodbridge Cup coach senior Dean Murray is confident his open team is capable of building on last year’s effort in the inaugural women’s competition.
“It’s a whole new team ... but from what I saw at the back-end of last year the first grade girls improved a lot,” Murray said.
The ball skills are there for a lot of the players ... but putting some bodies in front of them will be interesting.Woodbridge Cup coach Dean Murray.
“We’d love to win the first one and give the girls something to work toward the following week.”
Murray’s side will be without arguably two of its most important players for their opening round clash at Tom Clyburn Oval, with star halves Breanna Anderson and Alicia Earsman absent.
Jessica Perry and Paige Selten will be called on to fill that void while the likes of Hayley Sharpless, Monique Jenart and Nikita Campbell will have to pave the way through the middle.
Karla Kairaitana finished the last WWRL season as one of the most improved last season and along with Libby Peschka (under 15s), Chloe White, Molly Hoswell and Sarah Kirkness – all three will line up in the under 18s – Woodbridge Cup is confident they have enough strike power in each grade to win plenty of games.
“The ball skills are there for a lot of the players ... but putting some bodies in front of them will be interesting,” Murray said looking at the tackle-aspect of the WWRL.
“But we’re working on basic stuff at the moment, we’re bringing it right back because tackle is completely different to league tag. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Under 15s kick-off at 3.30pm at Canowindra, with under 18s and first grade games between Woodbridge Cup and Mudgee to follow.
Vipers’ first games of the season will be at Carrington Park against the Platypi, with kick-off of the under 15s at 3pm.
Castlereagh’s first assignment will be against the Dubbo Goannas at Baradine. Kick-off there is at 10am.
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