Tropics to suit Sky Blues style

Margie McDonald

Townsville is expected to provide the prefect conditions for the Westpac NSW Sky Blues to unleash their speedy backline, according to North Queensland Cowboys locals Kirra Dibb and Jakiya Whitfeld.

After losing Game Two of the Ampol Women’s State of Origin series by the closest of margins (11-10), the Sky Blues have scanned the long-range weather forecasts to find ideal tropical winter conditions on Thursday 27 June at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

“I think playing in the warmer, dryer weather will suit our style of play really well,” Whtifeld told (pictured above second from right with Dibb)  

“We love to shift the ball and get it out to our strike players on the edges – something we went away from in Game Two.”

The continuous heavy rain at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium on 6 June made it heavy going for both sides an limited opportunities for wingers Jaime Chapman and Tiana Penitani, centres Jess Sergis, Isabelle Kelly and fullback Emma Tonegato.

But Dibb agrees the shift north to better weather conditions will benefit NSW.

“Absolutely. We have so much speed and skill within the team that a dry track will allow our players to be at their best for game day,” she said.

Both Dibb and Whitfeld took time out from their NRLW pre-season to join club teammates and Queensland Origin players Makenzie Weale and Emma Manzelmann to promote Game Three of  2024 – the first time women’s Origin has been a three-match series.

“It has really added some fire to the NSW camp,” Dibb said of the one-point loss in Game Two.

“We wanted to wrap up this historic series on our own turf, and to lose so narrowly really reassures us that we can win the decider in Townsville.”

Whitfeld added: “We are very excited to be playing the decider up here in Townsville and I have no doubt it will be one of the most exciting Rugby League games you’ll see.

“We’re hoping for another sold out stadium and record number of viewers.”

Despite the atrocious conditions 25,782 turned out at McDonald Jones Stadium – the fourth consecutive crowd record at a game.

It combined with a national television reach on Channel Nine of 1.98 million.