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Wests Tigers star joins sisters in Netherlands’ World Cup bid



Wests Tigers forward Jessica Kennedy will play alongside sisters Nicole and Claire for the first time when she makes her international debut for Netherlands in Sunday’s World Cup qualifying match against Ireland.

Kennedy, who played seven NRLW matches for Wests Tigers last season, watched as Nicole and Claire helped Netherlands to a 56-6 defeat of Italy last month to secure a place in Pool A of the European qualifiers.

The Lionesses travel to Dublin to meet Ireland at Donnybrook Stadium on May 19 and will host Wales on June 22. 

A win against Ireland will set up a showdown with Wales for a berth in the 2026 World Cup, to be staged in the Southern Hemisphere, and Netherlands has been bolstered by Kennedy’s arrival.

Jessica Kennedy in action for Wests Tigers in the 2023 NRLW season.
©Chloe Davis/NRL Photos

“It was always a goal to join the Lionesses if they made the World Cup qualifiers,” Jessica told

“It will be unreal to play alongside my sisters in any game, but to represent our family on the field will make it even more exciting and special.”

Jessica, 21, has played one game in the NSWRL Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership with Claire but the RLWC2026 qualifier will be her first match alongside Nicole, who plays for London Broncos.

Wests Tigers forward Jessica Kennedy will make her international debut for Netherlands in Ireland.

Wests Tigers forward Jessica Kennedy will make her international debut for Netherlands in Ireland.
©Paige Schouw/

Claire, who was in the NSW U19s side and represented City at the recent Women’s National Championships, played with Nicole in the win against Italy, with the elder Kennedy sister scoring a hat-trick of tries.

“This experience has been like no other,” Nicole said. “I love this game and playing along this bunch of girls has been such a memorable experience.

“The girls have become like sisters and the bond we have on the field is nothing like I’ve experienced before. I’m so excited for what we’ll be able to do with what has been created.”

Nicole Kennedy reaches out to score one of her three tries in Netherlands win against Italy.

Nicole Kennedy reaches out to score one of her three tries in Netherlands win against Italy.
©European Rugby League

The Kennedy sisters qualify for Netherlands through a Dutch grandmother, while fellow Australian Paige Schouw, who plays for Brisbane Tigers and is a reporter for, is eligible through her grandfather.

“We’ve had massive support from all our family back home in Australia as well as our family in the Netherlands,” Nicole said.

“It’s going to be such an unreal and wholesome experience being able to play with both my sisters for the first time.

“It’s such an honour to represent our family and heritage but doing it with family by your side is on another level.”

Netherlands played their first women’s international last December, stunning Greece 14-0 in Athens, and can at least guarantee a place in the play-off to represent Europe in the repechage 2025 World Series if they beat Ireland.

Wins against Ireland and Wales would secure Netherlands a spot at the World Cup, alongside Australia, England, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea after their crushing defeat of Italy, in which Schouw won player-of-the-match.

“I think as a team we are in a great position as we have now started to make waves within the rugby league space, as genuine contenders for a spot in the World Cup,” Schouw said.

“We made a huge statement with our win against Italy and that was only the second every rugby league match for everyone bar four players [Greece being their first], which to me is mind blowing.

“There is definitely a buzz amongst the playing group and the NRLB staff after our last game.”

Meanwhile, Serbia will begin their World Cup campaign when they travel to Athens to play Greece in a Pool B match on May 18, with Lea Milosevic (Wentworthville Magpies) and Cleopatra Carreno (Camden Rams) in the Serbian squad.

After beating Greece 58-0 in April, France are favourites for a berth at the 2026 World Cup as European Pool B winners, with the winner of Serbia and Greece likely to play the runner-up of Pool A for a place at the 2025 World Series.

Other World Cup qualifying tournaments will be played later this year, with one team from the Pacific to join the Jillaroos, Kiwi Ferns, Orchids, England and European Pool A and Pool B winners at RLWC2026.  

The inaugural World Series will decide the final RLWC2026 berth.

The World Series will be contested by a European team, the Pacific Championships runner-up, the winner of November’s Americas Championships in Florida and the winner of September’s Kenya-Nigeria Test series. 

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