Penitani explains how Origin players will keep fit

Margie McDonald

Westpac NSW Sky Blues back Tiana Penitani doesn’t feel there will be a fracturing of preparations among Origin teammates due to the new women’s calendar for NSWRL’s elite players.

The Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership will now run alongside the NRLW starting in July, which means NSW players do not have a home club competition leading into the Ampol State of Origin series – Game One is on 16 May.

Trials for the BMD Women’s Premiership in Queensland begin this weekend, with Round One in early March.

“They way I see it is that it’s a bit of an advantage for us NSW girls because we’re not distracted at club level to fulfill those commitments as well as balancing State of Origin training and the development camps we need to do with Origin,” Penitani told

“It gives us an opportunity to really zone in and focus on Origin only, and work with our performance team at that level to make sure we’re fit and fast.

“We don’t have to compete with club land. In the past many of us were coming off the back of semi-finals or grand finals a little bit busted up before we got into Origin camp.”

There are several True Blues who will be playing in the BMD Premiership – Shaylee Bent (Wynnum Manly) and Jaime Chapman (Tweed Heads Seagulls), who played with those clubs in 2023, along with Kezie Apps (Western Clydsdales), Jesse and Hannah Southwell (Central Qld Capras), who make their debut in 2024. Others are still considering their options.

“So there is a handful of players up there playing in Queensland and that’s awesome for them to get some footy under their belt,” Penitani said.

“But I feel there’s so many ways around that down here.

“We’ve still got connections with our NRLW clubs because many of us are on multi-year contracts now so we can work with the high-performance guys there.

“There is a core group of us who want to train together leading into State of Origin.”

Some like NSW fullback Emma Tonegato train with her club’s Cronulla-Sutherland Westpac Tarsha Gale Cup (Under 19s) to freshen up passing and tackling skills.

“Exactly. I’m training on my own at the moment but I still have that contact (with Sharks) and get around the Tarsha Gale girls and the Lisa Fiaola girls (Under 17s).

“There’s avenues and ways around things at the moment,” Penitani said.

“It’s what we have to do to navigate this teething period because it is so important that Harvey Norman (NSW Women’s Premiership) has fallen under NRLW as a reserve grade.

“It’s a move that’s a massive step for us in growing the women’s game.”