Apps then captained the Dragons to their first NRLW grand final, where they were shut down by an Ali Brigginshaw-led Broncos pack at the end of 2019.
“She’s obviously been around the game for a long time and she’s had such a positive impact on the team and she’s such a natural leader … we will definitely need her,” Boyle said. “I’m hopeful that both of them will be back.”
Earlier this month, the Broncos denied the Dragons’ dream of a premiership with a controversial round two performance that saw Kelly and Apps hobbling off the field before the 60 minutes were up.
Patmore would have had his head in his hands after watching his two biggest stars go down during the Broncos’ 18-4 win, which secured their spot in the grand final. Kelly was injured when a hair pull from Amber Hall turned into an awkward tackle from behind that left the star centre clutching her ankle. Apps suffered a medial problem with her right knee in the first half and watched the rest of the game from the bench.
The Broncos went on to beat the Roosters in the decider on Sunday, claiming their third premiership in a row.
“We’ve got a lot of depth in the [NSW] squad and there are a lot of girls stepping up this year throughout the season and they’ve been playing good club footy,” Boyle said. “There is a definitely the depth there to cover for their spots if they’re not able to play.”
The Blues squad will head to Queensland on Friday, where the group will spend two weeks in isolation.
“It’s two-and-a-half weeks by the time we’re finished and that’s a lot of time away for one game,” Boyle said. “It’s a massive ask for a lot of people.”
The players will be restricted to using facilities at the hotel and have received an exemption from the Queensland government to use Sunshine Coast Stadium for training during their isolation.
Like the men’s version, the women’s State of Origin was delayed until after the season due to COVID-19. The women’s State of Origin will take place on November 13.
“It’s great to now have Origin after the NRLW because you can really see how everyone’s performed, it will just be picked up a level this year,” Boyle said. “Both squads are getting stronger so it’s just more competition.”
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Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.