NRL clubs letting down women’s game
THE NRL's desire to have a geographical spread in the upcoming women's competition could be under threat, with nearly half of the competition set to sit out of the bidding process.
Applications to have a women's team in the first female NRL competition are due this Friday after the deadline was extended, but a strong Queensland presence seems unlikely.
The Courier-Mail confirmed at least five teams will not submit for licences, including the Cowboys, Titans and Raiders, while the Storm are "unlikely".
All four clubs sit outside the New South Wales bubble, with the Broncos the only non-Sydney team to confirm they will put in a bid by the end of the week.
This lack of interest from non-Sydney clubs will fly in the face of what the NRL wanted from the women's competition.
The NRL expressed a desire for a wide geographical spread last December, while NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said two Queensland teams would be a hopeful scenario.
However, with the Titans and Cowboys out of the running, and the Storm "unlikely" to relocate to the Sunshine State, this seems improbable.
Melbourne are linked to two clubs in the Intrust Super Cup, have a netball team on the Sunshine Coast and also based their under-20s side in Queensland, but they are hoping to join any future expansions the NRL may do.
Aside from the Broncos, only the Sharks, Rabbitohs, Roosters and Dragons were able to confirm they will put in bids, while Manly and Penrith ruled themselves out.
The Bulldogs were "undecided" while the Tigers were also "unlikely".
Warriors CEO Cameron George did not respond to requests for comment on Monday, but did say late last month the club were putting together a submission.
Parramatta and Newcastle also did not respond before going to print.
The women's competition is expected to run during the men's finals with an initial structure of four or six clubs.
This means the NRL will have to hope all the bids are strong enough to be considered.
Greenberg told The Courier-Mail last week that the bidding deadline had been extended from January to mid-February because there was a great deal of interest from clubs.
"The interest from clubs has been very strong," Greenberg said last week. "They realise the value of having female pathways under their brand and we've made it clear we want a geographical split.
"The clubs asked us for more time so they could submit their proposals. Part of our challenge is to ensure we can sustain this for the long-term.
"We're only considering between four and six franchises to make sure the contest is really elite and we have it right for the future."
Queensland and Australian hooker Brittany Breayley, who was in the women's NRL training camp over the weekend, said that regardless of how many teams take part, the players have full confidence in the NRL.
"Whether it's four teams or six teams or 10 teams, we have all the faith in the people at the top that it will be run perfectly," she said.
"When it comes to August and September when we play in the NRL, it will be a good product and a success."