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Aussie trio aiming to help Netherlands qualify for World Cup



Australian-born Paige Schouw and sisters, Claire and Nicole Kennedy, hope to put rugby league on the map in the Netherlands by helping the Lionesses to qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

Schouw, who is a reporter for and plays for Brisbane Tigers, qualifies for the Netherlands through her paternal Opa (grandfather), who was born and raised in Haarlem. 

The Kennedy sisters, Claire – a rising star at Wests Tigers – and Nicole, who plays for London Broncos, have a Dutch mother.

Claire Kennedy and Schouw will make their international debuts in the sudden-death RLWC2026 qualifier against Italy on Saturday (11pm AEST) at Maurizio Quaggia Stadium, while Nicole has already represented Netherlands.

The Netherlands beat Greece in their first international last December.

“Representing my heritage is something that has always been a dream of mine,” Schouw said.

“It’s important to know and understand where you come from and it’s a privilege to be in this position. I think when I take the field it will forever be one of mine and my family’s proudest moments.” 

The winner joins Ireland and Wales in Group A of the European RLWC2026 women’s qualifying tournament, with France, Greece and Serbia in Group B.

It would be unreal to be given a crack at the World Cup with the Dutch girls.

Wests Tigers forward Claire Kennedy

Each group winner automatically qualifies to join Australia, New Zealand, England and Papua New Guinea at the 2026 World Cup, while the runners-up will play off for a place at the 2025 World Series and a second chance to qualify.

After spending time in camp with their new team-mates, the trio believe a World Cup berth could have a huge impact on the game in the Netherlands.

“It would definitely spike an interest in rugby league all over the country, causing the game to grow over here,” Claire Kennedy said.

“The Dutch spirit is like no other. I have fond memories of being in Holland during the soccer World Cup, and every house was decorated in orange and had the Dutch flag hanging out their window support the Dutch team.”

Most of the Dutch team have rugby union backgrounds but there are plans to introduce a women’s rugby league competition in the Netherlands.

The Lionesses played their first and only previous international against Greece in Athens last December and won 14-0.

“I think if we qualify for the World Cup, it will shine a light on the sport of rugby league here and hopefully inspire more people to play,” said Schouw, who grew up playing hockey and represented the Australian Indoor Hockey team in 2018.

Schouw will play centre against Italy, with Claire Kennedy to start at prop and Nicole Kennedy at fullback.

Nicole played in the NSWRL Harvey Norman competition for Wentworthville and St Marys before moving to London to work as a paramedic, while Claire is hoping to join another sibling, Jessica Kennedy, in the Wests Tigers NRLW squad.

Claire Kennedy hopes to follow sister Jessica into the Wests Tigers NRLW squad.

Claire Kennedy hopes to follow sister Jessica into the Wests Tigers NRLW squad.
©Chloe Davis/NRL Photos

“My future goals are to play in the NRLW,” said Claire, who represented NSW Schoolgirls in 2022. 

“I also think it would be unreal to be given a crack at the World Cup with the Dutch girls.

“Our mum was born and raised in the Netherlands. I’ve got cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents in Holland, and we often come to the Netherlands to see her side of the family.”

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