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"Famous occasion" for this region, says The King

Posted: 2pm 08 Apr 2022

League legend Wally Lewis, nicknamed The King, believes Sunday’s NRLW Grand Final will be “inspirational” for the sport in the Moreton Bay Region.

St George Illawarra Dragons face Sydney Roosters at Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe (kick-off 1.30pm) in the first stand-alone final for the women’s game.

It comes in a “famous” week, said Lewis - who starred for Broncos, Queensland and Australia – at the Sebel Brisbane Margate Beach today.

Full house

“Last weekend, when the Warriors played here (Moreton Daily Stadium) we saw that headline ‘Sold Out’ … not a spare seat in the house,” he said.

“There have been many famous names from this area and now we are about to have a famous occasion. It will be inspirational for rugby league in the area.

“It’s going to make young boys and girls come up with a plan about what they want to do and how proud they would be representing the Dolphins.”

Channel 9 commentator Wally Lewis chatting at today's launch of the NRLW Grand Final

Exciting time

On Sunday, Dragons will be favourites for many having finished second, behind Broncos, and beating Gold Coast Titans 24-18 in last Sunday’s semi-final.

Roosters lost their first two games before hitting form and had a stunning 22-16 win over three-time grand final winners Brisbane in the semis.

Dragons’ Jamie Soward, named NRLW Coach of the Year last night, said his squad was “feeling great” and “excited” to be in the grand final.

“We have girls who have been there, like Kezi (Apps), Holli (Wheeler) and Keely Davis and girls given the opportunity to come in and prove themselves,” he said.

“We haven’t taken it lightly with our preparation and getting ready for Sunday.”

Fitting finale

It was a “massive honour”, said captain Kezi Apps, to lead Dragons into the grand final and “it would be really fitting if we can get the win on Sunday”.

However, Roosters coach John Strange believes his team is peaking at the right time: “These girls keep improving and stepping up each week,” he said.

“The belief to play like that was there before the Broncos game. It shows the mental resilience these girls have. But we know we’ll need to be better again.”

Captain Corban Baxter said this week was "awesome for the women’s game” but Roosters were “trying to stay focussed" on Sunday's match.

Picture gallery - click through

Thank you

At today's grand final launch, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo lavished praise on the Moreton Bay Region, for three reasons.

“When we needed you most, during COVID and the relocation of our competition here last year, the people of Moreton Bay, from the leadership to the community, really stepped in to host us. For that we will always be thankful,” he said.

“Also for putting your hand up to with a proposal for hosting the first ever women’s grand final, which is happening on Sunday.

“Then, of course, we have the 17th team arriving next year, the Dolphins. So thank you for the support Moreton Bay Regional Council has shown for rugby league.”

Mr Abdo said this season there had been "more tries, more line breaks, more offloads per game than any other competition", the number of female players was up from 10,000 to 35,000 in four years and the NRL was aiming to double that in the next three years.

Acting Mayor Jodie Shipway speaking at the Grand Final Launch

Women's origin

Acting Mayor Jodie Shipway paid tribute to the NRL and State Government for “recognising the huge potential of Moreton Bay”.

“It’s only fitting this landmark game will be hosted here at Moreton Daily Stadium,” she said. “The competition deserves a stand alone event like this and we are honoured to make this possible.

“We are also hopeful in the future of hosting the women’s state of origin.”

Tickets for Sunday's NRLW Grand Final at available at nrl.com/tickets

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