Written by Danielle Smith
After Covid-19 derailed the women's competition in 2021, the kick-off to the postponed NRLW season is finally only a few sleeps away.
And if the hard hitting, emotion filled women's All-Sar game that we witnessed a few weeks ago is anything to go by, we are in for a sensational season.
It's been a long wait and anxious wait for all involved in the NRLW. With the chaos that ensued last year, you could hear the sighs of relief from a mile away when the season was finally given the green light.
The Sydney Roosters, St George Illawarra Dragons and reigning premiers the Brisbane Broncos, are all back and ready to play.
It is unfortunate that the New Zealand Warriors had to make the hard decision to pull out of the upcoming competition, with the restrictions around Covid-19 protocols proving too great.
The NRLW will welcome three new teams to the competition this year, with the Newcastle Knights, Gold Coast Titans and the Parramatta Eels all fielding women's teams for the first time.
While the Broncos will be the heavy favourites to take out their fourth straight title, their coach Kelvin Wright doesn't want to rest on their laurels.
"We're really proud of our history and want to make sure we take our learning and keep the culture that's being built," Wright told NRL.com.
"But at the same time, we've got to make sure that we're not complacent and that we reset."
"Half of our squad have never been in this team environment before. We've got about 12 players who are yet to debut. This team hasn't won anything yet."
This season boasts five fantastic rounds of the women's rugby league. With the quality of players at an all-time high, and the talent evenly spread across the teams, each match will be exciting and hard fought.
Round one kicks off this Sunday, with all teams playing in a triple header at McDonald Jones Stadium.
This season will also give players and fans two amazing firsts. The competition finally has an actual semi-final match, and the last two teams standing will have the honour of playing in the first ever stand-alone women's grand final, which will be held on Sunday April 10.
With so many superstars in the NRLW this season, it's hard to predict exactly how it will play out. But if we had to take a guess, here's what we think will happen.
2021 Premiers: It's going to be hard to beat the Brisbane Broncos, but I think this is the year it will happen. The powerhouse team have dominated the past three seasons, but there will be a changing of the guard this time round, with the Sydney Roosters taking out the title.
2021 Runner-Up: the Brisbane Broncos. They will be there at the end; they just won't get the trophy.
Highest try-scorer: Tiana Penitani, Parramatta Eels - The powerful winger will have a field day this season down the sideline.
Player of the year: Jessica Sergis - The 2019 Dally M winner will have a standout season at her new club, the Sydney Roosters, and will play a major part in their success.
Rookie of the year: Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly - Newcastle Knights - The former rugby union player, who has also represented the Kiwi Ferns, is definitely a rookie who will have a huge season.
Buy of the year: There are two players that I just cannot split. Jessica Sergis to the Sydney Roosters, and Tiana Penitani to the Parramatta Eels.
We are in for a jam-packed year of women's rugby league. Not only with the delayed 2021 season finally about to start, but there is also the regular 2022 season scheduled for later in the year. And with the State of Origin in June and a World Cup in October, there is a lot to be excited about.
Bring it on!