Albury Thunder's women's nines carnival continues to go from strength to strength.
This weekend will mark the third edition of the full contact event, attracting a record 20 teams in 2019, including the addition of an under-14s division.
Thunder will field teams in all three grades - open, under-16s and under-14s, while Wodonga Storm has an open and under-14s team.
The rest of the competition will be made up mostly from across the Riverina, with Wagga Kangaroos, Tumut, Yenda and Darlington Point-Coleambally among the travelling cohort, while Central Coast outfit Budgewoi Bulldogs (under-14s) and Bomaderry (under-16s) from the south coast will field junior sides.
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Albury's under-16 coach Craig Blackhall is looking to take his side to back-to-back titles after winning the event for the first time last year.
"The girls just want to start playing a bit of contact and start tackling," Blackhall said.
"Obviously it's starting to grow in Sydney and it's slowly picking up out in the country.
"Halfway through the year, I had some of the girls playing with my daughter (Jaxan) in the rep sides asking how they can get involved in tackle rugby and I told them there's a carnival down at Albury in October and they were more than welcome.
"They've been in contact with me for three months or so asking when the carnival is on and if they're right to play, so they've been really keen.
"Some of these girls that are coming down are pretty handy league-taggers, so as long as they can tackle, we should have a pretty handy side."
Blackhall said nines is coached very differently to league-tag.
"It's not just tagging, you've got to hold onto them and there's a bit more physicality involved," he said.
The carnival has become a launchpad for aspiring female rugby league players.
"It's a fair bit of work obviously to put it all together, but the growth in women's sport is significant," Thunder president Rick O'Connell said.
"(Leeton's) Tess Staines is playing for the Prime Minister's 13 (on Friday) and her rugby league career started at this carnival.
"A girl played for NSW in the State of Origin, Takilele Katoa, and she's supposedly playing for Yenda this weekend, but she hurt shoulder in the (NRLW) grand final (for St George Illawarra) on the weekend and I'm not sure if she's still playing."
Matches start from 9am on Saturday at Greenfield Park, with opening junior games to be played at Sarvaas Park on Saturday morning.
All finals will take place at Greenfield from 9am on Sunday, with the open women's decider kicking-off at 2pm.
Yenda are the defending open champions.