Newcastle’s second-row superstar Holli Wheeler has put pen to paper to confirm her recommitment to St George Illawarra ahead of the club’s upcoming 2019 NRL Womens Premiership campaign.
Wheeler, who was named the Dragons Women’s player of the year for her efforts in the inaugurual NRLW season, is joined by eight other superstars as the southern club swells their playing roster three months out from season-start.
Back-rower Kezie Apps, winger Jessica Sergis, and Shakiah Tungai will also join Wheeler in returning to the Red V for 2019. Apps has been named as the club’s new captain heading into the competition’s second season.
New South Wales playmaker Maddie Studdon leads the star-studded roster of new faces linking up with the Dragons. She will be joined by National Championship MVP Tiana Penitani, as well as Botille Vette-Welsh, Shaylee Bent, and Takilele Katoa.
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The re-signings of 2018 superstars Wheeler, Apps, Sergis, and Tungai were formalities at best, Dragons coach Daniel Lacey said after the nine-name announcement was issued by the club on Friday morning.
Considering their placement in the NRL’s elite female pathways development squad, as well as their involvement in the Women’s State of Origin clash next week, the four stars are set to create the core of the roster.
“It’s awesome to have the four of them recommit to the Dragons. They were a big part of our team last year and they have played a big part in the club planning for the future,” Lacey said of the re-signed players.
“We were always going to re-sign the players we thought could duplicate the job from 2018. Holli was the Dragons’ inaugural Women’s Player of the Year, Kezie stood up as captain when Sam [Bremner] was injured, and Jess and Shak have kicked on with confidence and the benefits they received from playing at the Dragons last year.”
After signing their first nine players, the Dragons now have just 13 slots left to be filled in their 2019 playing roster, ahead of the league’s opening fixtures in September.
Newcastle stars Hannah Southwell and Mel Howard were also part of the Dragons’ squad in their inaugural NRLW season. As yet, neither player has been announced as part of any 2019 playing group.