Isabelle Kelly has won nearly everything there is to win in the world of rugby league. She was named the world’s best player in 2018, and has battled her way to state premiership, State of Origin, and World Cup victories.
Now the founding Roosters star wants to add another piece of silverware to her swelling trophy cabinet – the National Rugby League Women’s premiership.
“I’m quite confident in the Roosters this year, the group of girls we had from last year are ready to go and we have a new group coming in as well,” she told gathered media during the first week of training ahead of the 2019 NRLW.
“It’s going to be very exciting this time I think. The Dragons might be the team to beat this season, but everyone has good players and I think it’s going to be a really exciting comp. Because it’s a short-format it’s anyone’s game, we’ll see how it goes.”
Kelly also enters in the national competition off the back of Newcastle’s victory in the state competition just a fortnight ago. Between claiming the NSW gong, and her 2018 Golden Boot, Kelly says she’s feeling the pressure to “be better”.
“The Golden Boot is a big title, and I think I have to try and work up to it,” she said.
“I’m just hoping to go out there and do my best. I’ve been really enjoying my footy this year and I just want the comp to start. I’ll be going hard, I’m a really competitive person and want to be even better this time around.”
Kelly and the Roosters finished as runners-up in the NRL Women’s inaugural season. The Sydney squad were felled at the final hurdle by an undefeated Broncos team that chalked up a 34–12 victory in the decider at ANZ Stadium.
This time around, the Roosters have called in the backroom big guns. Former Newcastle Knights helmsman Rick Stone has taken up the Sydney coaching mantle, after a championship campaign with Newcastle in the state league.
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“[Rick] Stone is a really good coach, he’s been coaching me for most of the year and he’s going to bring a lot of experience to our team,” said Kelly.
“It’s good to go to clubland when you’re outside the premiership or representative games and still learn something. Stoney does that, he knows so much about the game and he taught us all so much. I’m always learning with him.”
The 2019 competition will begin next month. The short-format league will be played during the NRL finals similar to last year, with the Warriors, Roosters, Broncos, and Dragons all playing each other once in a round-robin format.
For the first time ever, two of the games in the three-week regular season will be standalone fixtures.
The Warriors will host their Round 2 game at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday, September 22, while the Dragons and Roosters will meet at Leichardt Oval in the final round of the season just a week later.
Alongside Kelly, Newcastle stars Melanie Howard, Bobbi Law, Simone Smith, Hannah Southwell, and Rebecca Young will play with the Roosters in 2019.