Wests Tigers are proud to be creating a clear pathway for Wests Tigers female rugby league players for years to come.
After an intentional focus on increasing the club's women's pathways program, Wests Tigers currently have sides in the U/16's Lisa Fiaola Cup, U/18’s in the Tarsha Gale and seniors in the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership.
Elite Player Development and Pathways Manager Tyrone Collins has been a large advocate for women in rugby league since the beginning of the program.
“The two main pillars we have are development and unity,” explains Collins.
We want to see players progressing through the levels of the program and represent the club at the highest possible level.Tyrone Collins
"It’s important to ensure that the teams that are a part of the women’s program feel as much a part of the club just as all our other teams do.
“We also try to ensure that the both women’s squads interact with each other so the younger girls can see where they can progress to and the older players get to mentor the younger players.”
Collins explained the process the club has been on to develop, grow and retaining players throughout the women's program.
“From its initial beginnings at 2017, it's certainly come a long way,” he said.
“The first year was, admittedly, a struggle. However, the club reassessed what we want to do in the women’s space since then and now we have a really strong program. We are always trying to improve on the previous program little-by-little within the constraints we have."
Junior representative stars in the Curtain sisters — Emily and Sophie — are a prime example of those going through the club's development system.
The star duo first came through the club's junior Tarsha Gale squad are have now starred as part of the recent Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership campaign.
“We started three years ago – the second year of Tarsha Gale for Wests Tigers,” Emily recalled. “We have grown from playing in the younger age bracket to this year playing a full season in the Harvey Norman women's competition.
“Having the Lisa Fiaola, Tarsha Gale and Harvey Norman Women’s teams — and the involvement across all our areas — has a massive impact on women's rugby league," Sophie echoed. "It creates opportunities and possibilities for us that wouldn't be available otherwise."
“Having the consistency within the club and having similar teams playing together has been really good. We've done really well to make the finals both years but we've just fallen short and it gives us something to work towards."
"I think the game is certainly growing in a big way," Emily added.
"Nobody here wants to take two steps backwards when we know we've already taken so many steps forward. We're getting closer and closer to being on the same level as the boys every day and that always gives us something to aim for."
With the 2020 season going ahead as the only active senior NSWRL competition, the club is looking towards the 2021 season and including all age groups for a bigger and better year in the women's pathways program.
“Moving forward, a Grand Final and Premiership are always the goal," Collins said.
“Both Tarsha Gale and Harvey Norman have been top four for the last couple of seasons so this is the next logical step for us. Off the field, we will continue to build further support around the teams and inclusivity within the club."