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Australia New North Queensland rugby league side gives talented women opportunity to play closer to home

09:42  29 november  2022
09:42  29 november  2022 Source:   abc.net.au

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Jasmine Peters and Emma Manzelmann (with coach Marco Peters) have returned to Mackay to play in the Cutters' first team to contest the QRLW Premiership. (ABC Tropical North: Melissa Maddison) © Provided by ABC Sport Jasmine Peters and Emma Manzelmann (with coach Marco Peters) have returned to Mackay to play in the Cutters' first team to contest the QRLW Premiership. (ABC Tropical North: Melissa Maddison)

Emma Manzelmann is recognised as one of the best female rugby league players in the country.

She has won premierships, player of the season gongs, and State of Origin call-ups, but has also had to move thousands of kilometres away from her family and support network.

But that's all changed, with the talented 20-year-old now able to further her career from her hometown.

Manzelmann and fellow Mackay junior and NRLW player Jasmine Peters are the star signings for the Mackay Cutters, who will enter the Queensland Rugby League Women's Premiership competition from next year.

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The hooker said it was an opportunity to be a mentor to younger players, which was something she did not have.

"There were older girls that have played in several things, and teachers like [former Jillaroos] Renae Kunst and Deanna Turner, they were always there," she said.

"But because I was sort of one of the first [players to make it to the NRLW], I didn't really have too many people, but now I get to be that person.

"It's a lot more responsibility to showcase myself and be a leader for the younger girls coming through ... it's exciting."

Building on success

While the Mackay Cutters side will be new to the Queensland women's competition, it will feature several familiar faces.

With the North Queensland Cowboys putting resources to their new NRLW team, it means players from the Cowboys' Gold Stars QRL women's team will pull on the Cutters colours.

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Head coach Marco Peters said about 80 per cent of the team would be made up of Gold Stars, who would train out of Townsville, Cairns and Mackay.

"We've gone for a bit more youth, bringing the girls through ... and this is the last piece of the puzzle, having our own [QRLW Premiership] side," he said.

"We're a genuine pathway to the Cowboys, so I'd expect at least 80 per cent of our squad to go up to that level, and that's our job to get them ready for that."

A family affair

For head coach Marco Peters, the appointment extends the playing relationship with daughter Jasmine, who he's coached through her junior and senior years.

"It's fun at the end of the day that my dad is my coach," Jasmine said.

"We can go off to training and then we go home and we're back to father and daughter ... we leave it on the field"

Peters also credited fellow Mackay player and Titans captain Brittany Breayley-Nati for shaping her into the player she is.

"She was in the first ever women's comp in Mackay and I've learnt so much from her.

"She's an amazing captain to learn patience, virtues, morals — she has so much to offer."

While the players will hit the field for their first training session tonight, it's not yet clear when the season will start.

The Cutters are hopeful it will be early in the new year, with the NRLW season to be held in the back half of 2023.

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