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The Warriors fell agonisingly short of a maiden grand final appearance last season with points differential denying them a spot despite winning two of their three round matches.

In 2020, things have changed.

The COVID-19 pandemic not only threatened the Warriors' involvement in the NRLW but also cast doubt over the entire competition's immediate future in March. 

Come June and the competition received the green light but the Warriors remained hardest hit.

Only five of the 22 players who were part of last year's squad made the commitment to travel from New Zealand to Australia for the third season in a massive show of sacrifice.

Warriors captain Georgia Hale is one of those who was placed into a 14-day quarantine and will lead a side mixed with a host of talent from various backgrounds.

Based in Narrabeen on Sydney's northern beaches, the Warriors are determined to do a whole lot more than simply make up the numbers.

The Incomparables

The Outlook

What's new

Where to begin? The 2020 roster looks nothing like last year with 17 new recruits and a coaching staff that is led by Australian Jillaroos coach Brad Donald.

Donald has assembled an incredible squad in a short space of time with Jillaroos five-eighth Kirra Dibb joining the likes of Karina Brown (Sydney Roosters), Tazmin Gray (Brisbane Broncos) and Shontelle Stowers (Sydney Roosters) - all of whom boast NRLW, Origin and international experience.  

Add in rugby sevens stars Ellia Green and Evania Pelite, along with a mix of players from NSW and Queensland players on the rise, and it's a squad that shouldn't be underestimated.

Who is Brad Donald?

The draw

The Warriors are the only club in the competition to have beaten the Broncos in NRLW history and they'll be given a first-up test against the defending premiers in Canberra on Saturday.

Tazmin Gray will line up against her former club after winning a premiership with them last season, while all reports pointed Ellia Green towards a move to Brisbane before a last-minute switch due to quarantine restrictions. 

From there the Warriors will either play the Roosters or Dragons and if they could manage a shock win over the Broncos they'll like their chances of scraping in one more victory against either of those clubs in the remaining two matches.

Rugby sevens superstar Ellia Green
Rugby sevens superstar Ellia Green ©photosport.co.nz

The stat that gives you hope

A lot of key Warriors stats that worked well for the side last season came through players who are no longer there so it's a matter of starting fresh. 

Donald's incredible coaching record since taking over the Jillaroos in 2016 speaks for itself with the national coach losing just one game - the World Cup Nines final - in his four years at the helm.

Donald has a knack of bringing women's sides together in a short space of time and this should be no different despite the challenging task ahead.

The pride and passion driving Women in League founder Katie Page

The game-breaker

Ellia Green's arrival to the Warriors has been widely received and rightfully so. The powerhouse rugby convert is trying her hand at league for the first time and judging by her many highlights in the sevens format should not look out of place on either edge. Green's size and speed are her biggest assets and if the Warriors get within try-scoring distance she'll be tough to stop.

The quote

"I came over here with four girls and Brad has just been amazing in taking the coaching role on board and done a lot of work in the recruitment space to find some players of high quality. We haven't even taken the field yet with these girls but the energy we've generated makes it feel like we've known each other for years." – Warriors captain Georgia Hale.

Squad

Stephanie Ball, Madison Bartlett, Karina Brown, Brianna Clark, Kirra Dibb, Samantha Economos, Crystal Tamarua, Tazmin Gray, Ellia Green, Georgia Hale, Naomi Kara, Teaghan Hartigan, Taimane Levu, Laken Paitai, Kanyon Paul, Michaela Peck, Evania Pelite, Hilda Peters, Shaniah Power, Kayla Sauvao, Simone Smith, Shontelle Stowers.

Warriors captain Georgia Hale.
Warriors captain Georgia Hale. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Tarsha Gale's prediction

Finish: 4th

No team has been more affected by COVID-19 than the Warriors and for that reason, I think the task may be a little bit too difficult. Brad Donald has assembled an impressive roster that has the potential to produce some quality football but their limited time together could be an issue for them. However, in such a short competition, if Donald can harness the side's passion and bring the side together there's no reason why they couldn't be a dark horse contender this year.