The newest NRLW season is almost here and the league, as well as the talent, is evolving to new heights rapidly in all aspects of the game.
The talent in the league keeps growing in terms of demand and the skills that players possess and display in the game.
The Inner Sanctum is taking a look at the player from each team with the most potential to have a breakout season that can take their team to another level.
Jaime Chapman (Brisbane Broncos)
Jaime Chapman showed her speed and acceleration in the previous season with the Dragons.
With Tamika Upton having signed with the Newcastle Knights, Chapman will most likely play fullback for the Broncos. She’ll be able to take her game to the next level for the Broncos in hopes of winning the premiership for the 2022 season.
Chapman being able to play out the back and be a third receiver going side to side could unlock the Broncos’ use of space. Defences will get confused and open up space between the back-rower and one of the halves, where the centres and wings like to play aggressive and miscommunicate.
Her speed moving left to right will help in defence when teams break through the line and find gaps in their defence.
The upside for Chapman to communicate and control the defence from the back is something we will only get to see in the Broncos uniform.
The added offensive touches in the fullback position will be where Chapman can help pick up the pace, especially when the Broncos are struggling in their ball movement and playing against fast line-speed defensive teams.
Rachael Pearson (St George Dragons)
Being the vocal point of the offence and having a footy-minded coach in Jamie Soward is only going to make Pearson’s understanding of the game evolve this season. Not only will it make the game easier for herself, but also for her teammates.
Part of the grand final team that put up a good fight against the Roosters, Pearson will bring a new perspective from on playing the biggest stage in the entire competition.
Pearson’s can take her kicking game to a new level if she can make almost every kick purposeful, making the defence to offence transition for opponents really difficult to counter.
The Dragons’ grand final experience is only going to make the squad more motivated to win and get better. With a game-managing halfback in Pearson, her teammates are going to get more effective with their unique style of play.
Ellie Johnston (Parramatta Eels)
After an impressive State of Origin performance, Ellie Johnston has shown her ability to use her physicality and frame to get field position and control the middle of the ruck when she is playing at her best.
As a major contributor from the interchange, Johnston could be one of the most important players for the Eels squad, especially when the games get tough down the stretch.
With her versatility, she could play front-row or back-row ,and really help set the foundation of the forward pack play that the Eels have been putting together recently.
If Johnson can average 100-150 running metres a game, that will be huge for the Eels team, who have been statistically lacking in all aspects of their attack.
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Olivia Higgins (Newcastle Knights)
Olivia Higgins contributed to the Roosters’ premiership season and provided a lot of defence in the middle of the forward pack.
Signing with the Newcastle Knights, Higgins can shine as the defensive anchor in the line and create a spark around the ruck in the offence.
Higgins can go on dummy-half runs, playing a deceptive, shifty game where she can gain metres and field position to test the defence playing on their back-foot.
Her experience on the finals stage will allow the Knights to have a dummy-half that plays her role and sets up the offence for her teammates.
With a forward pack with solid depth and a star fullback in Tamika Upton, Higgins can delve into support play. She can open the middle and put her fullback in open space, adding a new dimension to the Knights’ offence.
Jasmine Peters (Gold Coast Titans)
Jasmine Peters had an impressive try-scoring ratio last season, with four tries in five games. Expect more to come this season.
Peters has a creative offensive style as a centre, being able to put a quick first step and side step on any defender playing one on one. She can also play out the back when the Titans run their set plays when speeding up the offence.
In the U19 State of Origin, although the Queensland Maroons lost to NSW Blues, Peters was able to maximise her window of opportunity, displaying signs of the upside of her style of play when carrying the ball.
Peters’ ability to use and play in and without space has also been shown in the Hostplus QLD Cup.
Expect the Titans to start her and centre their offence on the edge, getting the ball into her hands in a multitude of ways.
Peters’ game is only getting better, and with more first-grade NRLW experience, the Titans will be able to get the best out of her ability and skill.
Destiny Brill (Sydney Roosters)
Destiny Brill was able to add a running game around the ruck last year, at times being a contributor to scoring. She made strong use of her ability to take off and be deceptive close to the try line when her opposition is forced to play defence on their line.
After her rookie season with the Titans, being around a premiership-winning and structured culture, Brill can continue to display her versatility as a lock or dummy-half and play a specific role that contributes to winning and meaningful games.
Expect the Roosters to experiment with Brill in the middle and play around the dummy-half area to create a spark and speed up the game when the Roosters struggle to pick up the pace.
The Roosters could also explore implementing Brill in the middle as a ball player to move the ball left and right.
If dummy half is not the position she excels at playing in this Roosters squad, we could see her as a lock who is asked to get metres and hold down the defensive line with her tackle production.
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