The Roar announced the beginning a new era last week, one that would have a Queensland-centric approach as part of the development of their W-League program.
Roar CEO David Pourre made the announcement of this new Queensland-centric approach last week. Speaking to the Roar's website he stated:
"As the only professional club in Queensland, we are proud to provide a platform for our people to really grow in the lead-up to the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2023. Our focus on promoting Queensland talent is all about rewarding the fantastic footballers we have here."
He went on to add "That doesn't mean every player has to be born and bred here, but our principal philosophy is to promote those who have developed here, who have done well in a Roar shirt in the past or who have formed close ties to Queensland."
After a relatively silent offseason, the club and Garrath McPherson were very busy in the last two week, confirming nine players for the upcoming season. They started by retaining and re-signing players Jamilla Rankin, Mariel Hecher, Holly McQueen, Shea Connors, Georgie Worth and Anna Margraf.
18-year old Rankin made her W-League debut in the 2019-20 season, featuring in one game. However, she was essential to last year's success when she started all 13 Roar matches.
A product of the Queensland Academy System, where she was its Player of the Year in 2019. Rankin is well acquainted with her new head coach who was integral to her development in the NTC program.
Holly McQueen also re-signed for the upcoming season. McQueen won the QAS Player of the Year award in 2020, and while she has yet to make her W-League debut, she was on the bench for one Brisbane Roar game last year. Her new coach has described her as a promising young leader and a tremendous defender.
Mariel Hecher was also re-signed. She made her W-League debut last year and like Rankin started in all matches. Older than the other two retained players at 28, the attacker found the back of the net four times last year. McPherson stated he hoped those killer instincts and creativity in attack will show again this year.
Shea Connors was also re-signed for the upcoming year. The Connecticut born striker has experience abroad in both the American collegiate system and the Icelandic league. She made her W-League debut last year, playing 53 minutes for the Roar in which she scored one goal.
However, it was through the Queensland NPL that Connors first showed her prowess in Australia, scoring 30 times for Lions FC this season and having found the back of the net 66 times in her total 48 NPL appearances.
It is Connors' proven attacking prowess that McPherson hopes to capitalize on this year in the signing of the prolific striker to his side.
Georgie Worth, who started nine matches in goals last season also re-signed with the club. The Brisbane born goalkeeper has been part of the Roar set up for a number of years.
Anna Margraf resigned for her fourth W-League campaign with the Queensland club. Having played a marginal role in the last three seasons, where she saw fifteen starts, the Roar are hoping this will be the season Margraf really flourishes.
The 20-year-old talent has remained in Queensland during the off-season, playing for Capalaca FC. Described as a "very smart footballer" by her new manager with "exceptional technique", Margraf is again the type of footballer to fit the club's new philosophy.
The Roar also managed to bring back three Queenslanders to the club, starting with the signing of Brisbane native and former Young Footballer of the Year nominee Hollie Palmer yesterday.
Palmer made her W-League debut with the Roar as a 16 year old in 2017. She then spent three seasons with the club before switching to Melbourne City last year.
Upon her rejoining the club, McPherson praised the young midfielder, both for her exceptional technique and for her desire to always seek ways to keep improving. He expressed his enthusiasm at her returning home.
Former golden boot winner Larissa Cummer also re-signed with Brisbane. Having last played with the Roar in 2014-15, Cummer has since played with Melbourne City, abroad with the Seattle Reign and most recently with the Newcastle Jets.
While a broken leg curtailed her recent career, the Roar are excited to have her back in their fold. The Sunshine Coast native will add both a wealth of football knowledge and some needed firepower to the developing squad.
Ayesha Norrie also returned to the team. Having last played for the Perth Glory after some time with the Melbourne Victory, the Queensland native rejoins the Roar for her first W-League for her first season back since the 2015-16 campaign.
Bringing in more than 50 games of top flight experience, she will add needed experience in midfield to a squad currently packed with young talent.
All nine signings are the type of players that the Roar hope to keep bringing in, that is individuals who have gone through the Queensland Academy of Sport or the NPL women's competition. As Pourre stated:
"We've seen with Roar sides of the past that a strong Queensland core is a recipe for success in the W-League and this is something that’s going to be consistent right across the Club."
The plan to grow, nurture and promote Queenslanders could prove essential as the W-League expands and more competition arises for Australian based talent.
As the Roar continue in this state focused approach, it should be exciting to see what type of talent they add to their upcoming W-League's side.