Australia

Eels, Knights and Titans join expanded NRLW as Warriors withdraw


The NRL is set to introduce a centralised contracting system for women’s players as part of an expanded six-team NRLW competition announced on Friday.

After three seasons in the competition, the Warriors have withdrawn to be replaced by new clubs Parramatta, Newcastle and Gold Coast for the 2021 season.

They will join NRLW foundation clubs Sydney Roosters, Brisbane and St George Illawarra for the seven-week competition, which will start in round 23 of the NRL season.

The grand final will be played on the same day as the NRL season decider.

The addition of two clubs has raised the number of matches from seven to 18.

Each team will play each other once, predominantly in double headers with NRL matches, with the top four playing off in the semi-finals.

It will then be expanded again to eight teams in 2022, with the Warriors expected to return to the competition.

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These decisions were made at an Australian Rugby League Commission meeting six weeks ago with the details of the contracting system yet to be finalised.

How it will work is of most interest with some clubs and players concerned at the lack of detail with just 10 weeks until the round-one kick-off.

It is understood the proposed scheme would involve a number of the top players being contracted by the league and then allocated to NRLW clubs.

The idea is to allow new clubs to compete on a level playing field with the already established teams and their top-tier players.

Meanwhile, the Knights have announced recently retired NRL half Blake Green as women’s coach for this season, with ex-Parramatta player Dean Widders to coach the Eels.

Gold Coast is yet to finalise its coaching structure.

AAP


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