AAP Rugby

Women’s Origin hailed as great leap

By AAP Newswire

The inaugural Women's State of Origin has been hailed as fitting of the brand and the first step towards parity with the men's game.

Despite missing a host of stars - including Ruan Sims and Caitlyn Moran - and losing Corban McGregor and Rebecca Riley to injury in the first-half, NSW toughed it out for a historic 16-10 win over Queensland at North Sydney Oval on Friday night.

The match was a giant leap forward for women's rugby league.

The annual match has been known as the Interstate Challenge for the first 19 years and it was the first time the game carried the Origin branding.

A healthy crowd of 6824 watched on at North Sydney Oval and the match was broadcast live on Nine Network and Fox Sports.

However, both sides said it was just the first step in a long journey for female rugby league.

Both sides hoped the concept could be expanded in years to come to a three-game series, similar to the men's Origin.

As well, halves were only 30 minutes because of concerns about the fitness levels of the players, who are only semi-professional.

"They were looking for that marquee Origin game and they got it," NSW coach Ben Cross said.

"Queensland came with a terrific attitude and the game wasn't the prettiest game - execution wasn't the best.

"But that's what Origin is all about - both teams were so gritty and tenacious in defence. Some of the physicality and some of the hits out there, it was a real Origin. They proved their worth to have Origin alongside their name."

It's hoped that the game will develop in future years, especially with the inaugural NRL Women's Championship at the end of the season expected to life the standard of the female game.

Asked if future Women's Origin should be 40-minute halves, Queensland coach Jason Hetherington said: "I think you'd have to progress up to it.

"You could go to 35 and see how that works and eventually get up to 40 but I think it'll be a bit of time before that happens."

Maroons skipper Karina Brown called it a watershed moment for rugby league.

"It makes me smile," Brown said.

"The future generations are out there and they're playing rugby league because they've got heroes now - female heroes. It's fantastic for the game.

"I'm sure that's where we'll get to (three games). For now I'm just happy we're playing Women's State of Origin and the game will keep evolving and getting bigger and better."