NRL launches women's comp in 2018

Jillaroos players Corban McGregor (left) and Ruan Sims at the announcement of the NRL women's program. Photo: AAP
Jillaroos players Corban McGregor (left) and Ruan Sims at the announcement of the NRL women's program. Photo: AAP

The NRL has confirmed it will launch a national elite women's competition in 2018.

The NRL Women’s Premiership will feature “up to six” teams aligned with NRL clubs.

Their matches will be played as double headers during the NRL finals with the title decider to be played as a curtain raiser to the NRL grand final.

It's not known exactly how many teams will take part in the inaugural competition with the NRL accepting bids for licences.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said a new program for women would also include a stand-alone State of Origin match - formerly known as the Interstate Challenge - between NSW and Queensland, played during the NRL's representative weekend in mid-June.

There will also be state league competitions, with grand finals to be played as double-headers prior to Women In League Round matches.

Additionally the national team, the Jillaroos, who won the women's World Cup last weekend, will play international matches in the Pacific and New Zealand in an enhanced program.

Greenberg said an initial 40 players would receive Jillaroos contracts, which would include payments for matches and participating in a series of high performance camps, as well as access to high performance staff and elite athlete training programs year-round.

"We are taking the women's game to a new level," Greenberg said.

"For the first time, there will be a dedicated pathway for our women to follow - from grassroots junior league, to state competitions, and on to premiership matches and representative Origin and Test match opportunities.

"The women's game has become an attraction in its own right and anyone who has seen the Jillaroos in action cannot help but be impressed by the skills and athleticism on display.

"The NRL is determined to provide the right channels for women to follow and play rugby league - and today is a great starting point for that program."

Giant leap for women's rugby league: Ali Brigginshaw, left, and Caitlin Moran celebrate after winning the World Cup last week. Photo: AAP

Giant leap for women's rugby league: Ali Brigginshaw, left, and Caitlin Moran celebrate after winning the World Cup last week. Photo: AAP