Howard Strives For Semi-Finals Showing

Updated: July 6, 2018

The CRL Newcastle side will face a tough Cronulla outfit in their final regular round clash next week and halfback Mel Howard believes her side has what it takes to progress to the Semi-Finals.

Howard admitted that losing players to injury and Origin commitments this year has ultimately made her Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership squad more resilient.

“It’s been good for us because there have been a few girls that have played in different positions which has helped with their confidence; they’ve really stepped up,” Howard said.

The addition of players from the NSW Tarsha Gale Cup has helped CRL Newcastle with their successful season and Howard says their presence reflects the amount of up-and-coming talent stemming from Regional New South Wales.

“They’re super enthusiastic and willing to learn.

“Coming from the Under-18’s…they’ve actually surprised me a bit with their toughness and their ability to play with the Opens girls.

“It’s good for the older girls to see that and be reminded of what is coming through.”

The introduction of the CRL Central Hunter Combined Women’s Competition this year has provided CRL Newcastle with a feeder competition of over 700 female players; Howard affirmed her team has benefitted greatly from this new pathway.

“The system has worked really well; having those girls get a bit of experience and then step up into our team.

“With injuries and things like that, it’s been helpful and it’s good we’ve got that pathway for those girls to come through.”

Howard’s Rugby League skills progressed in leaps and bounds after scoring the role of NSW Country halfback and kicker at the Women’s National Championships, where Country won the inaugural competition.

She says she gained self-confidence in the tough three-day tournament at Southport in June, which saw Country lose five key players to injury before the final match.

“When you play in a team with Jillaroos players, playing halfback and leading them around the park made it pretty easy to come back to club footy with a bit of confidence.”

The speedy half says her side, which features Origin players Isabelle Kelly, Bec Young, Holli Wheeler and Hannah Southwell, has the drive and talent to contest with Cronulla next Sunday.

“Hopefully we get a win against Cronulla and that will give us a lot of confidence.

“I think everyone realised what we can do when we beat Souths; that was a big win for us because they were last year’s competition winners.”

CRL Newcastle v Cronulla-Caringbah will be held at Ted Doyle Oval, Berkeley Vale on Sunday, 15th July; with the match kicking-off at 2.30pm.