NRL: Warriors stars Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck a hit with female fans

Warriors pair Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson are helping to attract more female fans to rugby league. Photo / Photosport.
Warriors pair Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson are helping to attract more female fans to rugby league. Photo / Photosport.

Warriors stars Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck are among rugby league's most popular players with the game's growing legions of female fans.

Johnson and Tuivasa-Sheck have been named in the NRL's top 10 players with women audiences - the only New Zealanders to be ranked alongside the likes of Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater, North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston and South Sydney's Greg Inglis.

Johnson has long been a big hit with female fans while Tuivasa-Sheck's status has risen throughout the preseason after making a successful return from injury and being named Warriors captain by coach Stephen Kearney.

And while dashing or rugged good looks are qualities shared throughout the list of players, a clean behaviour record and nice-guy image are also key to the group's success in wooing women to the NRL.

Research numbers reflect a surge in growth of female fans in recent years and the NRL's marketing and commercial department is desperate to attract more women to further boost both television viewer and match attendance numbers along with merchandise sales figures.

Last season saw 47.2 million women tune in on the box - that's 5.1 million more over the year or a 12 per cent increase on 2015's 42.1 million.

Overall, female viewers make up 37 per cent of the television audience and that figure climbs to 42 per cent for State of Origin.

Those growth areas have prompted the NRL to do surveys to identify the most popular players with the results potentially set to influence future marketing and advertising campaigns.

"We have always had a huge group of men who love rugby league who are rusted on fans and cannot get enough of it," NRL marketing and commercial boss Andrew Abdo told the Daily Telegraph.

"Now we have more women and girls switching to our game and loving every minute of it. That's why it's important to have the research and know who and what they like."

The introduction in recent years of female rugby league broadcasters such as Yvonne Sampson, Erin Molan and Lara Pitt, and the presence of Titans chair Rebecca Frizell and Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle among the game's top officials have also helped draw more women to the code.

"Just look at the influx of female commentators on television," Abdo said. "They bring a great perspective to the game. The more our fans see women in these key roles the more women will watch rugby league."

Top 10 Female Favourites
Billy Slater
Johnathan Thurston
Matt Moylan
Sam Burgess
James Tedesco
Aaron Woods
Shaun Johnson
Greg Inglis
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Brett Morris

- NZ Herald

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