Isabelle Kelly may still be rugby league’s greatest female athlete.
Or maybe not.
Perhaps Olympian Charlotte Caslick is set to take the crown.
Regardless, we’re about to find out. A Golden Boot winner who, good judges reckon, would have no problem hanging in NRL training sessions, 23-year-old Kelly is set to shake up the 2020 NRLW season after signing on with St George Illawarra.
After two years with the Roosters, The Daily Telegraph can reveal the superstar centre is headed to the Dragons with Jillaroos prop Steph Hancock – who boasts consecutive premierships with Brisbane – and returning club favourite Sam Bremner, now back after giving birth to her first child.
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Isabelle Kelly has signed with the Dragons for the upcoming NRLW season. Picture: James Worsfold/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
PNG skipper Elsie Albert has also signed on with the Red V for 2020, becoming the country’s first representative in the increasingly popular Australian competition.
Yet the biggest story, undoubtedly, is the impending showdown between Kelly and Caslick, that braided Rugby Sevens star who has now assumed top billing inside Roosters HQ.
The same spot, coincidentally, Kelly previously held. Yet after now switching to the Dragons fulltime, having also played for them at the NRL Nines, the Central Coast product gets to square off against the Olympic gold medallist who will likely wear the Tricolours No.6 jersey.
Asked what she knows about the Sevens Rugby star, Kelly said: “Very talented human. Great athletically. Strong ball skills, too. I haven’t watched too many Sevens games — only a few here and there — but I obviously know Charlotte is an amazing athlete and I can’t wait to see how she transitions.”
Outstanding for two years with the Roosters, Kelly has previously been regarded the best female rugby league player on the planet – having won the 2018 Golden Boot.
At St George Illawarra, she also unites with the incumbent holder of the same award, fellow centre Jessica Sergis. But as for having crossed paths with Caslick, regarded as the best women’s Rugby Sevens player anywhere?
“No, I don’t know her and we’ve never met,” she said.
Isabelle Kelly during a NSW Blues training session. Picture: Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia
“But a few of the girls I play with on the Central Coast, they’re signed with the Roosters and have said how positive Charlotte has been since joining them.
“How eager she is to learn.”
While the NRLW competition kicks off in just over a week, Kelly must first prepare for the Harvey Norman women’s grand final at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday – where her Coast side faces North Sydney.
“Which in terms of the NRLW, is great for my fitness and being game ready,” she said. “My body feels good and I’m being careful not to overload.”
Elsewhere, the centre also talked up the opportunity to be playing alongside fellow Dragons recruits Hancock and Bremner.
“Steph is a great leader who brings so much experience,” she said.
“I’ve played with her at a World Cup, in Test matches and just her presence and knowledge will be really valuable.
“And Sammy — little fitness freak.
“She’s worked so hard to make sure she could get back onto the field.
“It’s really shown all of us girls that you can go away, have children and still come back to the game that you love.
“Which, personally, isn’t something I’ve thought much about yet.
“But given nobody has really had kids then come back to play in this top class competition before, I think Sam is now laying out the path that you have to take.”
Originally published asDragons snare Roosters’ Golden Boot star in NRLW coup
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