An elite rugby league women’s team called the North Queensland Gold Stars will take the stage in 2020 as part of the recently announced inaugural QRLW statewide competition.
Facilitated by the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, the Gold Stars is a collaborative effort between the club’s feeder teams, the Northern Pride, Townsville Blackhawks and Mackay Cutters.
For the first time, female talent from across North Queensland will train in Cairns, Townsville and Mackay, before selected players compete in seven QRLW rounds.
Cowboys chief operating officer Micheal Luck said, “the North Queensland Gold Stars is a wonderful next step in order for our club to become a truly diverse sporting club that provides the opportunity for all players to represent their region at an elite level.”
“This new team, in conjunction with our feeder clubs, gives elite female talent within North Queensland the opportunity to train together and then wear the same jersey and play against other teams across the state.”
“Our new team’s name symbolically aligns it with the Cowboys brand, while also referencing its inherent formation as a collective of North Queensland talent.”
The announcement of the Gold Stars comes just four months after the Cowboys launched their Women’s Academy to provide elite development and coaching to players in Cairns, Townsville and Mackay.
Each region will now have a satellite squad with up to 15 players aged over 17 selected from the Women’s Academy for their chance to be play in the QRLW competition.
Cowboys elite pathways coach Ben Jeffries will take on the role of Gold Stars coaching director, working with coaching staff within the Cowboys and three feeder teams.
“I’m excited for North Queensland and for the women’s game as a whole,” Jeffries said.
“It’s great to see young women that have come through the North Queensland junior systems and into our newly formed pathways, now with the opportunity of playing for the Gold Stars.”
“This team is a true team effort and opens up a lot of opportunities, with pathways for players and roles for coaches, managers and sports trainers within our regions.”
Players within the QRLW competition will have the opportunity to compete for a Maroons jersey and other representative opportunities.
The Gold Stars also sets the club on a path to NRLW success, providing an important building block to entering a team in the franchise that will truly reflects the region’s talent.
It also impacts rugby league at the grassroots level.
“Girls in our region will now have the chance to pick rugby league as a sport when they’re young and follow it through to the big stage in the NRLW,” Luck said.
Training will start in early January 2020, with players within the satellite squads named later in the month and the Gold Stars look revealed.
The club now has eight men’s and women’s academies across Queensland, delivering 15 training sessions to players from February to May.