The Titans and Broncos will kick off their cross-town rivalry at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday but behind the scenes the rivalry between the two clubs has been in full swing for months.
Gold Coast’s inclusion into the 2021 NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership was welcomed by plenty in the game but immediately had the championship Broncos wary of having their top players taken.
It is well-known the Titans targeted several marquee stars at the Broncos to join them for the current NRLW season under the current talent equalisation model, only to be turned down on all occasions.
Only three players were signed by the Titans in the end – Jessika Elliston, Shannon Mato and Zara Canfield - after winning the NRLW title at Brisbane in 2020.
Mato keeps the Titans alive
Seven players in the Titans squad have played at Red Hill in previous years while a quarter of the Broncos squad reside in the south-east Queensland region.
Broncos prop Millie Boyle was one who knocked the Titans back on a marquee deal despite living down the road from the club’s training facilities and Cbus Super Stadium.
“I just really like the Broncos team we have and spent two seasons here already and had a lot of success so thought why would I want to leave?,” Boyle said.
“Just because a new team came in and I lived around the corner didn’t mean I wanted to change any of the things I’d done.
Millie Boyle opens the scoring
“I love our team, our coach and staff so it was important to me to keep those girls together. It has created a bit of a stir but I’m enjoying it and feel like it was the right decision in the end.
“The Titans are a competitive team who will be fired up at home and we had a really close game against the Dragons. It’s good to see the competition so close and it challenges us to be better.”
Brisbane will be looking to make life difficult for their cross-town rivals on Saturday with the Titans’ one-win and two-loss record threatening to derail their finals hopes.
Having already secured their spot in the finals, the Broncos are unlikely to hold back given the build-up to the local derby, particularly with a few predicting an all-Queensland NRLW grand final.
In a first for both clubs, they’ll remain in Queensland for the next fortnight as part of the draw with the Broncos to host their second-ever home game ever at Suncorp Stadium in round five.
“I’ve never played an NRLW game in Queensland so it will be good to have a support base there and have people who can make the trip,” Boyle said.
“It will just be good to not have to travel to a game by going to an airport. We’ve learned to do adapt to whatever we need to do but this is the third year I’ve played and finally we’re home.
“Hopefully we get some good support. We’ve always had people who have backed us.”
Stephanie Hancock gets the short-handed Titans on the board
Siren mishap prompts apology
Still on the Titans and the NRL has apologised to the club over an early siren mishap that left players and referee Kasey Badger confused eight minutes before half-time on Sunday.
A software error prompted the siren to sound and the clock to show no time left on the scoreboard midway through the first half at CommBank Stadium.
Titans captain Brittany Breayley-Nati kicked the ball out on the full after taking the tap, turning the ball over as the time remaining reappeared.
Parramatta kicked a penalty goal to level the match 10-10 at the break before going on to claim a 24-14 win.
NRLW Match Highlights: Eels v Titans
Stakes rise for Canberra Origin
The expanded women’s State of Origin in 2023 just got a whole lot more important for this year’s result with the winner to hold the trophy for as long as the other state wins two games to reclaim it back.
Current champions Queensland will be hoping to make it a third-straight crown in 2022 which will make things difficult for NSW to claw their way back in future years under the two-game series.
The losing side this year will need to win next year’s series 2-0 to reclaim the shield as the NRL moves towards a three-game match in the future.
Chapman's not-so fast car
Jaime Chapman had a disruptive build-up to her clash against the Broncos last week with the Dragons winger a victim of crime just 48 hours out from the game.
Chapman's car was broken into ahead of the fixture with the thieves stealing her football bag which contained her boots and training kit.
Thankfully, boot sponsor Adidas got involved and were able to provide her with a fresh pair of wheels just in time.
Chapman was among the best on field in last week's loss with 101 metres and four tackle busts.
Bo knows records
Botille Vette-Welsh allowed NSW teammate Millie Boyle just a fortnight in holding the record for most metres by an NRLW player in a match by churning out a whopping 272 against the Titans on Sunday.
Vette-Welsh has taken her game to new heights in 2022 with 70-minute effort including eight tackle busts.
Boyle previously broke Jess Sergis' record in 2019 during round one this season with 223 metres before Vette-Welsh went past that mark last week.
Vette-Welsh stars for the Eels
Clubs have one eye on 2022
The signing window for NRLW clubs to sign players for the 2022 season scheduled for later this year is likely to open before the 2021 grand final on April 10, prompting some clubs to move fast on retaining some of their roster.
Contracts for the next season, which the NRL announced on Tuesday will be centred around a $350,000 salary cap, are in the process of being drawn out, but it hasn't stopped clubs from already planning for the future.
The NRLW has averaged around 50 percent player turnover on average per squad across the past four seasons and with a new cap system in place, player movement could be more rife than ever.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.