NRLW edging closer to faster expansion

The NRL is moving closer towards going straight to 10 teams in its women's competition in 2023 as part of an accelerated expansion process.

Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman PETER V'LANDYS.
Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman PETER V'LANDYS. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.

The NRL is edging closer towards going straight to 10 women's teams next year as it prepares to make a call on an accelerated expansion of the female game.

The ARL Commission will meet on Wednesday and while the size of next year's NRLW competition is not expected to feature prominently in discussions, a final decision is looming for the body.

The NRL had initially announced in March it would go from six teams to eight in 2023 and then 10 in 2024, as part of a gradual growth of the competition.

However AAP revealed earlier this month that plan was now likely to be accelerated, with Cronulla, North Queensland, Canberra and Wests Tigers the teams expected to be admitted.

The NRL held strategic meetings over the women's game while away for Magic Round, and while feasibility studies continue the move to 10 teams is now believed to be close to certain.

It comes with negotiations for a maiden collective bargaining agreement for women's players set to ramp up later this year.

The league will also continue to fund additional teams as part of the growth, with ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys believing that has paved the way for more NRL clubs to want to enter.

"The NRL are picking up the majority of expenses (for clubs) because we want the momentum to continue on the upward scale," V'landys told AAP.

"I am thrilled the quality of the game has come leaps and bounds. The players have been remarkable.

"We don't want to lose that momentum. It's important to keep up and give them every opportunity. That's what we will be doing."

The NRL is also edging closer towards a draw for this year's six-team end-of-season women's competition, likely to start on August 20.

The subject of the NSWRL is also likely to be discussed at Wednesday's commission meeting.

Both the ARL Commission and NSW claimed a win out of the Supreme Court case, with a judge finding the NSWRL's February election was not invalidated even though Cronulla CEO Dino Mezzatesta should have been able to run despite fears of a conflict of interest.

The ARLC is yet to agree to funding for the state body and insistent a new election should be held regardless, with claims that is the request of the majority of member clubs.

"The clubs are not going to give up. And the ARL is acting on behalf of our members," V'landys said.

"They want us to pursue it and we are going to pursue it.

"We are going to make sure that proper governance is taken. He should never have been disqualified."

An appeal of the Supreme Court decision remains one option, however V'landys said he was willing to meet with NSWRL officials to talk over the situation."