World Cup places up for grabs in women's Origin clash
THERE is more than pride to play for in Sunday's women's State of Origin clash, with the match doubling as an audition for the women's rugby league World Cup.
The annual interstate challenge will provide selectors with crucial intel ahead of the Jillaroos team being named for the World Cup in Australia later this year.
For the first time women and men are playing at the same World Cup tournament, with the Jillaroos and their rivals running out in their pool games and the semi-finals at Southern Cross Group Stadium in Cronulla. The women's final will be played as a double-header with the men's decider at Suncorp Stadium.
NSW coach Ben Cross said a Blues win in Wollongong on Sunday would improve his players' chances of Jillaroos selection for the tournament.
And a top-level game will attract more fans to the women's game, now the fastest growing area of rugby league.
"To the victor go the spoils generally," Cross said ahead of the annual clash between the Blues and Maroons women.
"It is important to put on a good show to get the crowds and for the girls to get selection.
"If the game we are producing is good, people will come.
"I have spoken to a lot of first-graders and they are amazed at the skill. It is no-holds-barred rugby league."
After a draw in 2015, NSW beat Queensland for the first time in 17 years in 2016 to claim the Nellie Doherty Cup, named after the woman who was instrumental in staging the first female league game in 1921.