Taree Panthers on the prowl in women's nines rugby league

Sienna Limpic fires out a pass for Taree Panthers under 14s during one of the Hastings League women's league nines matches at Wauchope.

Sienna Limpic fires out a pass for Taree Panthers under 14s during one of the Hastings League women's league nines matches at Wauchope.

DOUG Ferguson forecasts a bright future for women’s rugby league going on what he has seen in the past five weeks of the nines competition run at Wauchope by the Hastings League.

Ferguson said he’s been ‘blown away’ by both the standard of the games and the enthusiasm of the players. He’s the president of the Taree Panthers Junior Rugby League Club. The Panthers entered two sides in the under 14s, one in the 16s and one opens team in the competition that concludes tomorrow. The 16s will be in the grand final.

He admits to being skeptical when first approached to enter sides for couple of reasons, foremost whether there’d be the necessary support from players.

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However, he said his concerns were allayed from the first training session when players turned out in droves, necessitating forming the two 14s teams. Ferguson has coached the 16s and the opens.

“They’re so keen to learn. And they’re much easier to coach than boys – they listen and they take everything in,’’ he said.

“Some of the skills are mind blowing. And some of the hits in tackles – they’re incredible.’’

The opens have struggled a bit for wins

“Training has been a bit of an issue with some of them because of work,’’ he said.

However, Ferguson said a lack of success on the paddock hasn’t dimmed their enthusiasm.

Nines competitions have mushroomed around the NSW Country areas and are seem as an integral part in what the NRL hopes will be a full professional competition starting in Australia within four years. However, Group Three clubs have been reluctant to become involved, with only the Hastings League showing interest. There are six sides playing in the various grades at Wauchope – Taree Panthers, Wingham, Wauchope, Port City, Port Macquarie and Camden Haven.

Ferguson warns that if the group clubs continue to ignore the women’s game they will do so at their own peril.

“I’ve heard there are moves to start league tag in the junior age divisions, but when I mentioned this to the players they blew up big time. They want to play league, not league tag,’’ he said.

A senior representative side will be chosen from the open teams to contest in trials for the Country side early next year. This will be the traditional 13-a-side game.

Ferguson said the Hastings team will be formidable, judging from what he’s seen in the past five weeks.

“I think a couple of Panthers players will be selected,’’ he said.

This story Taree Panthers making moves in women’s nines rugby league first appeared on Manning River Times.