Sky Bruise: heavy sessions prep NSW for Origin opener

George Clarke |

NSW have thrived training together for seven weeks in Origin preparation, Yasmin Clydsdale (r) says.
NSW have thrived training together for seven weeks in Origin preparation, Yasmin Clydsdale (r) says.

NSW back-rower Yasmin Clydsdale says her perforated eardrum is proof the Sky Blues’ State of Origin preparations haven’t lacked intensity as they gear up for the series opener with little game time.

The NSWRL’s decision to shift the Women’s Premiership season to align with the NRLW – rather than play in the early months of the year – has meant few of Kylie Hilder’s squad have extensive minutes under their belt in 2024.

The QRL opted against following NSW’s lead, with the Queensland competition providing Sky Blues such as Olivia Kernick, Kezie Apps and Jaime Chapman the chance to play regular matches north of the border. 

But the majority of Hilder’s extended 34-player squad have spent the last seven weeks training together in preparation for Thursday’s opening game, the first in a three-match series.

Struggling to hear clearly after one bruising session, Clydsdale said the battle for a spot in Hilder’s gameday 17 has ensured the Sky Blues aren’t venturing to Suncorp Stadium underdone. 

Yasmin Clydsdale in action for Newcastle Knights.
Clydsdale remains confident in the Sky Blues’ preparation despite a lack of games for many players. (Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS)

“(My eardrum) is a little bit sore but it’s ok … we were just doing tackle practice and I hit Kezie’s hip just that little bit too hard,” she said.  

“We were getting flogged and after losing the Harvey Norman (NSWRL) competition, we were a little bit sceptical at the start to see how we would go leading into the Origin camp.

“We’ve really thrived being with each other for the last seven weeks and being able to train and we’re pushing each other to be better. 

I’m fitter than I ever have been.

“We did have internal matches and that was where we did go hard because everyone was fighting for a position.”

The women’s calendar has been a hot topic following the rapid expansion of the NRLW.

Head office likes the alignment of playing women’s Origin at the same time as the men’s series, and the NRLW grand final has been played on the same day as the NRL for several years.

That policy has had its drawbacks, with last year’s series opener, which Queensland won 18-10, marred by a 15-15 error count.  

“It was a little bit embarrassing for our game,” NSW centre Jess Sergis said.

“There were 15 errors (each), which was pretty horrible. 

“We’re focused on that not happening again, but also playing our style of footy.

“We’ve gotten to the point where people love watching women’s football, so to have that scrappy game last year which wasn’t our style (was disappointing).”