NRLW grand final calls for 2020 vision

Bronco Millie Boyle and Dragon Ngatokotoru Arakua on stage during the NRLW Fan Fest event.
Bronco Millie Boyle and Dragon Ngatokotoru Arakua on stage during the NRLW Fan Fest event.

Millie Boyle and Kezie Apps wouldn't have dared to dream of facing off in a grand final on rugby league's biggest day when they grew up in Bega.

Because even a decade ago, a women's NRL competition decider between Brisbane and St George Illawarra being played at ANZ Stadium was so far from reality.

Apps was the more senior of the pair from the NSW south coast town, and now one of the game's biggest names as captain of her state and the Dragons.

Boyle was the young talent, having already made her State of Origin debut and now forging her career at the Broncos by age 21.

"I don't think that ever would have crossed my mind (of playing a grand final like this against each other)," Boyle said.

"We played league tag together and thought that was the highest it would get to.

"To have this competition and now to be playing against each other in the grand final is something you will never forget."

That the two can face off in Sunday's main curtain-raiser shows just how far the NRLW has come in just its second season.

Brisbane will enter the clear favourites - despite trying to claim underdog status this week - as the defending premiers who have lost just one game in two years.

The Broncos have 10 Queensland State of Origin stars, while the Dragons have eight Blues including Dally M medallist Jess Sergis.

And so, about the only thing the two sides agree on headed into Sunday's match is that for all the growth the game has had, this competition still has much developing to do.

The push is on for more rounds, with the NRL strongly considering a six-round season next year that would allow the competition to start in August with all four teams playing each other twice.

More sides are expected from 2021, with Canberra having already lodged their submission to join the competition.

"We've got the four teams established now, so to be able to play each other twice (is important)," Dragons coach Daniel Lacey said.

"It would be good for home fans to see their team.

"I know Brisbane haven't been at home all competition and the Warriors weren't last year. We'd love to play in front of our fans in that sense."

Beyond that, there is the growth of each game too.

Currently restricted to 30 minutes a half, coaches and players want that expanded to 35 minutes next year before the jump to 40.

"I think the players overall are, across the board, probably a bit fitter," Broncos coach Kelvin Wright said.

"As time goes, players come through with a higher skill set. We just need more time.

"The kicking games are quite improved. The tacklings techniques have improved a lot."

Australian Associated Press