In the last 12 months Isabelle Kelly has won a World Cup, been named best-on-ground at State of Origin and signed to the Sydney Roosters for September’s inaugural NRL Women’s Premiership.
CRL Newcastle hopes the good times keep on rolling when the representative centre returns to the paddock on Sunday for a key, last-round clash against the Cronulla Sharks at Berkeley Vale.
Kelly comes back from a shoulder and bicep issue just in time for the NSW Women’s Premiership finals push, replacing injured Brisbane Broncos recruit Jayme Fressard who ended her season last weekend by rupturing both the ACL and MCL in her left knee.
“Jayme goes out unfortunately, but Isabelle comes straight back in,” CRL Newcastle coach Mick Young said.
“It’s a fair swap. We’re very fortunate to be in that sort of position.”
It leaves CRL Newcastle all-but at full-strength for the round-14 encounter with dual World Cup champion Bec Young and Blues debutants Holli Wheeler and Hannah Southwell available.
A win would ensure the girls in red and blue a spot in next weekend’s semis while a loss doesn’t exactly spell the end, with only a thrashing enough to turn around their superior for-and-against record.
Opponents the Sharks can’t miss the top five and can only finish as high as fourth, which means the teams will more than likely meet again in seven days time.
“It’s basically a dress rehearsal for next weekend, but we want to keep building on what we have been doing,” Young said.
“Maybe even give some of the younger girls who have come up some extra minutes.”
In the meantime, attention will turn towards Waratah Oval on Saturday with grand finals of the inaugural CRL Central Hunter Combined Women’s Competition.
Berkeley Vale tackle Maitland United in the open grade (12pm), South Lakes meet Wyong in the under 18s (11am), Kurri Kurri take on Wyong for the under-16 title (10am) and Western Suburbs battle it out with Thornton-Beresfield in the under 14s (9am).