NRLW’s ‘ultimate vision’ a sweet 16

NRLW’s ‘ultimate vision’ a sweet 16

FATIMA KDOUH

All 16 NRL clubs will have a women’s team.

That is the governing body’s “ultimate” long-term goal as powerbrokers and the new women’s players’ advisory group met for the first time yesterday.

As the men’s game tackles expansion and a revolutionary conference system, the RLPA’s women’s group held a Zoom call meeting with NRL CEO Andrew Abdo and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys to set the agenda for the future of the women’s game.

NRLW stars Kezie Apps, Karina Brown, Millie Boyle, Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Hannah Southwell, Tallisha Harden, Keeley Davis and Amber Pilley all took part in the groundbreaking meeting yesterday afternoon.

On the agenda is the expansion of the NRLW beyond the current four-week, fourteam (Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos, St George Illawarra and New Zealand) competition, which has been in place since the inaugural 2018 season.

Fans can expect an expanded season in 2021 but the finer details of length and the number of teams is yet to be finalised. The NRL and ARLC are expected to announce the details in the coming weeks.

“Our ambition is to increase the number of teams and matches,” Abdo said. “It would be great for all of our clubs to have a women’s team eventually. That’s certainly the ultimate vision.

“The commission has the growth of participation and pathways for females as a strategic priority and we therefore need to invest from the bottom up and at all levels.

“We have some great ideas on how to make the NRLW competition even stronger and today was another step in sharing the considerations and the process we are following. We will be sharing the plan with key stakeholders in the coming weeks.”

With interest in the women’s game and ratings on the rise, and an abundance of talent in the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup and Women’s Premiership, the women’s game has now outgrown the NRLW format.

The Daily Telegraph understands the NRL recently canvassed the appetite among clubs to register a women’s team in the NRLW competition, in which the Broncos have reigned as premiers since its inception.

It’s understood a number of Sydney clubs, including Canterbury and Parramatta, are eager to join an expanded NRLW competition.

The NRL has taken a conservative approach to growing the women’s game at the elite level.

But with female participation now the game’s biggest growth area and female players developing skills earlier than ever before, the governing body is committed to implementing a holistic strategy that takes in the grassroots through to NRLW level.

“We are all very passionate about our game and the meeting with Peter and Andrew allowed us to bring forward some of our insights and feedback,” Apps said after the meeting.

“We now have a better understanding of the NRL’s plans moving forward, so that is a positive takeaway for us.

“Importantly, the NRL has committed to keeping open the lines of communication with this group in the future.

“We also made it clear that we are willing to help drive positive outcomes as a collective through collaborating with the NRL and RLPA.

Yesterday, St George Illawarra announced that former Dragons playmaker Matt Head would be the club’s new NRLW coach for the upcoming season.

Only talking about Gold Coast and maybe a western Sydney team

Easts really screwed us. Having nothing but a connection with the CC suddenly they have everything they want - every Sydney club and CC as their feeder

I’m told we are a long way behind because they want a national spread. Us and Cronulla no chance because the Roosters and SGI have teams that squeeze us out.

That sucks