Bring on three-game women's Origin: Sims

Emma Kemp
Queensland's Karina Brown and NSW's Ruan Sims will captain their women's State of Origin teams

A three-match series may yet be a few years off but the significance of next month's inaugural women's State of Origin clash cannot be overstated for the players involved.

When Queensland travel to North Sydney Oval on June 22 bidding to reclaim long-time dominance recently ceded to NSW, they'll do so under the same Origin banner as their male counterparts.

Not only that, the former Interstate Challenge will garner unprecedented exposure as a stand-alone fixture as part of the NRL representative weekend and two days before Origin II.

The name change is one Blues captain Ruan Sims and her contemporaries have been working towards for years.

It also marks increasing professionalism in women's rugby league, with each team going into camp in the lead-up and the NRL paying a match fee separate to state contracts.

Sims hoped it would mark the first step towards replicating the men's full series.

"Potentially in the future I would love to see us running a three-game Origin series in conjunction with the men," Sims said.

"That's why I'm so excited about what we're doing now because we are laying the groundwork to ensure that does happen and that it is sustainable.

"Women's rugby league is a force to be reckoned with and it's here to stay."

The push towards female professionalism has been swelling, and Blues coach Ben Cross has already seen a spike in competition for spots during his three years at the helm.

Cross predicted a three-game series may be two or three years away, stressing the importance of a strong underpinning club competition.

He believed that would be attainable once the strong young talent emerging through the under-18s Tarsha Gale Cup have established themselves in the upcoming inaugural national women's competition.

In similar vein to the men, Queensland won the first 17 years of the Interstate Challenge up until 2015, before the Blues were victorious in the latest two and he is now hunting long-term bragging rights to ease nearly two decades of pain.

In an intriguing sub-plot, the 39-year-old former NSW prop will face off with former Maroons player Jason Hetherington, who was installed as Queensland women's coach this year.

At Monday's launch there was no interest in Paul Gallen-esque niggle and verbal barbs, rather mutual respect at what each had achieved.

On the field, though, the battle will be fought just as fiercely.

"When it comes to getting out on that field they're our nemesis," Sims said.

"It's us against them and playing for this pride, this jersey."