The inaugural NRL Touch Football Premiership kicks off this Friday at ANZ Stadium when the Parramatta Eels clash with the Wests Tigers on Friday 18th May before the NRL clash against the Warriors.
The Eels are one of six NRL clubs to have aligned themselves with elite touch football teams, with both a women’s and men’s team playing in the tournament with the two 30-minute games played ahead of the main NRL event between Rounds 11 and 20. The games will be broadcast nationally through a mix of live and delayed broadcasts.
Eels v Wests Tigers Women’s Kick Off: 3:55pm
Eels v Wests Tigers Men’s Kick Off: 4:35pm
NRL kick off: 6pm
Parramatta Eels Touch Football squads
Rebecca Beath, Chloe Cheney, Tayla Clifford, Brittney Clifford, Danni Davis, Rachelle Davis, Elesha Dougal, Hannah Dyball, Stephanie Maiolo, Lucy McDonald, Yasmin Meakes, Faith Nathan, Zara Nicholas, Aaliyah Paki, Laura Peattie, Samantha Rodgers.
Barry Gibson (Coach), Anthony Dudeck (Assistant Coach), Christian Browne (Manager), Annette Thomas Schumacher (Selector)
Daniel Barton, Jacob Harrington, Dylan Hennessey, Jordan Horo, Jed Ibbotson, Kyle Jermyn, Simon Lang, Luke Mansour, Jordan Marshall King, Alex Nicholls, Georgie Palau, Mark Roberts, Kai Simbolon, Marley Simbolon, Ciaran Toner, Caidyn Wynyard
Mark Boalnd (Coach), Jason Martin (Assistant Coach), Ricky Hetherington (Manager), Tim Kitchingham (Selector)
NRL Touch Football CEO Steve Mitchell was excited ahead of the competition launch.
“It is only a few days away now so it is super exciting for the sport. The response nationally has been quite extraordinary,” said Steve Mitchell.
“Interest in the sport alone, across the country, has really peaked since the launch of the Premiership and that has continued to roll on and I think will only continue to pick up momentum as it goes along and when we starting seeing the players in their kit and the quality of the athletes.”
“These guys [the Eels] when they play Wests Tigers on Friday afternoon, in front of a live audience and broadcast nationally of Fox, it will be a great exposure of the sport.”
Mitchell knows playing the curtain-raisers ahead of the NRL clashes will be a great drive for further participation in touch football.
And with many NRL players coming from a touch football background, Mitchell knows the importance of have these players as inspirations.
“You can’t beat broadcast and the eyeballs watching, and these aspirational things. Kids will look up and they will want to be a Bevan French and they will look up to that, aspire to that and work their way through,” Mitchell said.
“For these guys, it means that when a kid is coming through and playing touch and he is very good at touch, he can one day play as a Parramatta Eels on the main stage in front of broadcasts.”
“That for us will be huge in driving junior participation levels.”
“There is probably 25 regular first grade NRL players, looking at Bevan French, Matt Moylan, the Trbojevic brothers, Matt Dufty, Kayln Ponga who is getting a lot of media attention at the moment around how he plays his game and the attributes he has taken from touch, Aiden Guerra, Cameron Munster, Benji Marshall and Shaun Johnson.. the list goes on and on,” Mitchell added.
“Plus about 8 of the Jillaroos at the moment are ex-elite touch players so it does from a player development point of view, add an extreme level of skillset.”
Six NRL Clubs will have teams; three from New South Wales, and three from Queensland: the Parramatta Eels, Wests Tigers, Newcastle Knights, Gold Coast Titans, Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys.
The inaugural Premiership will consist of six rounds plus a final. Queensland teams and NSW teams will compete against each other in separate pools, with the winners from each pool progressing to the Premiership Final.