Unorthodox preparation rated as one of Sky Blues best


The Westpac NSW Sky Blues may have undergone an unorthodox preparation for Game One of the Ampol Women’s State of Origin series but coach Kylie Hilder has rated it as one of their best.

Women’s Origin moves to a historic three-match series this year with the opening game to be played at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.

The Sky Blues have faced a different preparation after the state’s premier women’s competition, the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, was shifted to mid-season to coincide with the NRLW competition and increase the playing opportunities for female participants.

Subsequently with no competition to prepare them for the Origin arena, Hilder and her coaching staff have run a pathways camp for the past seven weeks to have them battle-ready.

There have also been a few Sky Blues, including Kezie Apps and Keeley Davis, who have been playing in the Queensland BMD Premiership to assist with match fitness.

The Sky Blues coach said the pathways camp would also help mitigate the error-rate that blighted last year’s opening game which occurred a month after the NSW Women’s Premiership had ended.  

“We have had a really tough, good seven-week preparation,” Hilder said today. “I feel that prep has been even better than the girls playing in the Harvey Norman competition last year.

“Some were playing, some weren’t. We didn’t know where they were and what they were doing so being able to have them as part of that pathways program and knowing what they’re doing means the prep has been great and I’m really confident the first game will be a lot better than last year.”

Hilder added that some of the training sessions had been so brutal that even the coaching staff had winced, with back-rower Yasmin Clydsdale suffering a busted eardrum after collecting the hip of Sky Blues co-captain Kezie Apps.

“We had to replicate not having any football so we had a squad of 36 and there were some very dark sessions where even I would sit back and go ‘Ooooh’,” Hilder said.

“But we had to get them fit and as I said they were missing out on having that week-to-week training and playing, so our (strength and conditioning coach) has done a real good job on getting them to where they need to get to. They’re ready and firing to go tomorrow night.

“Normally we come into camp and you’ve got seven days to try and see where they’re at. Last year was really tough because we had some girls playing Harvey Norman, some weren’t, there was a lot going on with NRLW contracts and CBA’s.

“It was quite a frustrating year as a coach last year. This year I know that I’ve got a fully fit squad, everyone has done the work. Like I said we had 36 players to come up with that final 18.

“The depth we’ve got at NSW is really, really good at the moment.”

Hilder said all players were fit and ready to go, including halfback Rachael Pearson who has shown no signs of a calf issue to complete all training sessions.