Jillaroos prop Millie Boyle is likely to be offered the opportunity to return home and help lead a foundation Raiders team if the club secures a 2023 NRLW licence.
Raiders CEO Don Furner and director Katrina Fanning, who played 26 Tests and is regarded as a Jillaroos’ trailblazer, launched Canberra’s bid to join an expanded NRLW competition on Monday and said they wanted the region's players to play at the highest level without having to move.
Boyle is from Cobargo on the NSW South Coast and has links to the Raiders through her father David and uncle Jason Croker, but the NSW Origin star and former ACT Brumbies rugby union representative has played for the Brisbane Broncos since the first NRLW season in 2018.
Furner nominated Boyle as a player the Raiders believed would help ensure their NRLW team, which will mostly comprise of young talent developed through the club’s Tarsha Gale Cup or Katrina Fanning Shield pathways, was competitive.
“Recruiting a Millie Boyle would be like recruiting a Mal Meninga,” Furner said. “They attract other players, and you need that to get started.
“We want to be competitive. Finance-wise we will be fine, facilities-wise we will be fine, so we just need to start looking now at recruiting some talent.”
Jillaroos forward Milie Boyle. ?Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos
Yasmin Meakes (Roosters) and Samantha Economos [Warriors] played in the Canberra Region Katrina Fanning Shield competition but had to move to play NRLW.
The Raiders will submit their application to play in the 2023 Telstra NRL Women’s Premiership early next year, but Furner is extremely confident that the club will be accepted.
Canberra has a new Centre of Excellence and the club is financially strong, with Furner believing that the cost of running an NRLW team – estimated to be $750,000 per season – would be covered through the NRL’s grant, sponsorship and government funding.
As the nation’s capital, Canberra offers strong employment prospects, the chance to study at ANU and cheaper accommodation than Sydney, which Furner said would all be used as lures to attract star players.