Manly Warringah Sea Eagles will be looking to build on the solid foundation laid last year in the NSW Tarsha Gale Cup this season.
The Sea Eagles created history in 2023 when they fielded a women's team in the U19s competition for the first time since the club's formation in 1947.
In what was always going to be a challenging first season, the Sea Eagles were more than competitive each week and captured plenty of interest and support throughout the community.
We caught up with new Coach Keith Hanley to get his thoughts on the team ahead of their first match against St George Dragons at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah, at 2.30pm on Saturday, February 10.
WC: What impresses you about this squad?
KH: The character in this group is positive and continuing to track that way. They have a genuine care for each other, our staff and the club and are developing some really good traits in and around the detail of our footy.
WC: Where do our strengths lie?
KH: Character as discussed above along with a growing understanding of what is needed as individuals in terms of the detail involved in the game (consistent fundamentals) and how to execute these facets as a team (teamwork)
WC: Why did you choose Matisse Bettridge and Lili Boyle as co-captains. What made them stand out in the pre-season?
KH: Lili has a great work ethic. Her attention to detail is first class and she is growing rapidly in this space. Matisse has a good football IQ. She works very hard and leads from the front.
WC: Every team’s goal is to make the finals, but outside of this, it’s about the development of the players, on and off the field. How important is this?
KH: Development is obviously important. Individually and collectively, we have a player matrix for skill requirements in this team. It is imperative that within our team we first strive to ensure the skillsets (fundamentals) are at or around the level required for this 18/19-year-old age group so that whoever takes the field understands their role, can consistently perform and be effective in their execution. We are not perfect, at this stage. We are trying every day to be better.
Off field the group is quite positive. We have built an environment around the team been first and foremost. There is respect for everyone. We try to be punctual, prepared and ready to learn.
WC: Who are the players to look out for this season?
KH: These girls are all 18-years-old. Danii Nicole Gray is a half-back who is a very mature player and is progressing well as she learns her trade. Alianna Tonuu is a physical, athletic player who contributes strongly. Aleksandra Tunufai is a very strong, fast and athletic centre. Indy Russell-Lia is a strong middle forward with great leg speed.