Newcastle forward Hannah Southwell, pictured here training at Penrith Stadium last Saturday, has been named to start at lock in the Women's National Championship opening game. Image via CRL.

NSW Country’s starting lineup for the 2019 Harvey Norman Women’s National Championships in Burleigh at the end of this month have been announced, and it’s brimming with Novocastrian representatives from the back to the front.

Seven of the original eight players from Newcastle named in the squad’s 22-woman roster will make the journey to the Gold Coast tomorrow morning, with just Isabelle Kelly not involved in the competition after being sidelined with a knee injury.

Halves star Melanine Howard is set to lead the Country side, while veteran commander Kylie Hilder also slots into the spine in her natural hooker position. Holli Wheeler and Hannah Southwell are both bolstering the forward pack, with Southwell named at lock, while Wheeler has been included in the second row.

Bobbi Law rounds out the starting five travelling from Newcastle, with the centre-come-winger bringing her offensive form into the NSW team. Law has scored two in five in the Women’s Premiership, after linking up with the team in the third round against the North Sydney Bears.

Bec Young has also been included in the team’s top seventeen, and will wear No.17 jersey. Jillaroo star Simone Smith, who has taken over Newcastle fullback responsibilities in their last four outings, has been named as the team’s 18th woman.

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Country coach Matt Parish said he is already excited to see what the squad can do, after an initial training session at Penrith Stadium last Saturday brought the 2019 roster together for the first time.

“We’ve lost a couple of players [Sam Bremmer, Isabelle Kelly] but as one door shuts another one opens and we’ve got the nucleus of a very good team,” he said. “I’m excited to see the girls take the field to defend their title.”

NSW Country begin their campaign against the Australian Defence Force at 12pm on Thursday, while they take on northern rivals Queensland Country two days later on Saturday afternoon. Finals begin on Sunday, June 2.

All NSW Country pool games will be livestreamed at crlnsw.com.au.

The NSW Country team list has been revealed. Click to expand for full image.

NSW COUNTRY: Kezie Apps, Keeley Davis, Kirra Dibb, Vanessa Foliaki, Emma Hickey, Kylie Hilder, Rikeya Horne, Melanie Howard, Ellie Johnston, Takilele Katoa, Bobbi Law, Shellie Long, Kaitlyn Phillips, Ruan Sims, Greta Smith, Simone Smith, Hannah Southwell, Tess Staines, Gabrielle Suckling, Shakiah Tungai, Holli Wheeler, Bec Young.

Harvey Norman Women’s National Championships Draw

POOL 1: South East Queensland (SEQ), NSW City, Combined Affiliated States (CAS).

POOL 2: Queensland Country, NSW Country, Australian Defence Force (ADF).

  • DAY 1 – Thursday May 30: 12pm – CAS v NSW City; 1.15pm – ADF v NSW Country.
  • DAY 2 – Friday May 31: 12pm – CAS v SEQ; 1.15pm – ADF v QLD Country.
  • DAY 3 – Saturday June 1: 12pm – SEQ v NSW City; 1.45pm – QLD Country v NSW Country.
  • DAY 4 Sunday June 2: 10.30am – Third (Pool A) v Third (Pool B); 12.00pm – Second (Pool A) v Second (Pool B); 1.45pm – First (Pool A) v First (Pool B).