Who Should be the 6 NRL Women's Teams?

It was only last week that NRL Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg announced of a six team women's NRL competition to accompany the men. One could see it as a necessary response for the NRL, after the AFLW competition's success in 2016, as well as a vital step forward in expanding the game in Australian and New Zealand. The news that came out was that it would be a six team competition, which seemingly would start at the back end of the men's season to accompany the finals series. According to the article on NRL.com, a good majority of club officials are chomping at the bit, with most clubs willing to put a bid in for a women's team. However, there are so many factors that need to be looked at. It seems that the NRL wants to have a team from New Zealand, Queensland and regional New South Wales, as well as Sydney, but there is interest from Victoria as well. With the AFLW season ending very early on in the year, it opens the door for some AFL players to venture across into rugby league during the 'off-season' while playing for their respective VFL/AFL Sydney/SAFL women's teams. It bodes the question though, who should be the six clubs that get the first batch of licences?

New Zealand Warriors

This one seems to be the guarantee of the six. There will always be interest from our friends across the ditch as New Zealand has been a mega-player in the female development of rugby league in our region. A lot of the players from the New Zealand side are wanting to play in the competition, and with a majority being based there, it would only make sense. Some of the players from the Cook Islands squad have also put their hands in the pile of players wanting in on the competition, with some living in New Zealand at the moment. New Zealand has a great development system for their junior players, and some fantastic facilities, so it would only make sense that the Warriors get a bid here.

Parramatta Eels

This one might seem a little biased, but hear this one out. Parramatta will have one of the best facilities within Western Sydney once the new stadium is completed. Whilst they may not have a stadium as of yet, they most certainly have plenty of grounds around them that they can use as a training base while also using the grounds outside of Olympic Park as their home field. The likes of the grounds around the Blacktown International Sportspark, Doonside Oval and Richie Benaud Oval right up the road in Parramatta, are all good practice facilities whilst still being relatively local to what would be their home base. With membership on the rise, it would not be a rash call to give Parramatta a bid.

St George Illawara Dragons

The women's competition in the Illawarra just speaks for the region itself really. It is one of the best in the nation, with a lot of talented women coming out of the region. The Dragons have both Jubilee Oval as well as WIN Stadium to use, as well as some of the best facilities to train on. Depending on where they want to base out of, North Dalton Oval could be a fitness base whilst cricket is not in season while Jubilee is perfect for training runs. The players could live on the shire and travel down, or live in the Illawarra region and have the support of a region big on rugby league. It's a win-win if the NRL does give the Dragons a bid.

Melbourne Storm

What is the one way that you can make an impact as well as taking it to your nearest sporting rival? Place a team in rival territory, and that is what the NRL should be doing here. Since the Melbourne Storm arrived in the middle of the Super League war of 1997, they have always been one of the most competitive teams in the competition. They have a great home base in Melbourne, a pretty loyal fan base (unless you cheat the salary cap) and they can feed off the men's facility. The NRL can also really make a play to say that they are expanding the women's game by having a Victorian women's team. If that doesn't work... a Western Storm might be on the cards? Either way, this is the one team where you can take it to the AFL as well as stamping your mark as a code on Victorian territory. Add on the fact that State of Origin goes to Melbourne for game one this year, and it looks like a no brainer.

Brisbane Broncos

Here is the Queensland team that is being thrown around the joint. Whilst North Queensland probably do have a bid in place, Brisbane should be the team to get it. It lightens the travel if these are the six teams that get a bid, as well as ensuring that the players can live pretty comfortably whilst they play in the competition. AFL in Queensland isn't at its peak right now, and Union is a joke at the moment, so the NRL has to capitalize on both of its rivals performing poorly and put the Broncos in the women's competition. This one is more about marketing and strategic planning for potential expansion, but the fan base is pretty good and the facilities around Suncorp and inner Brisbane are impressive, so this would make for a logical choice.

Central Coast Bears

The NRL has hinted as a "regional NSW team" being one of the six that are given the original bids to join. This is the perfect time to trial what could be the next men's team, by giving the Bears an avenue through the women's league. It will test the feasibility of the Central Coast region, whilst still giving Bears fans what they have been asking for. The Bears, and the Central Coast have been begging the NRL to come back into the league for as long as Around the Grounds has been a Facebook page (going on six years now). It isn't exactly what a lot of fans had in mind, but it would be the perfect way to see what the fan base is like, as well as to see how administrators could handle the Bears. The North Sydney Bears would still exist as we know it in the NSW Intrust Cup, but it would be great to see them expand into the Central Coast with the women. It may also wind up opening the doors for teams like Wyong to have their own women's team in the NSW Women's Cup when that eventually happens.

The women's league is something that needed to happen, so it is fantastic that this will be happening in the near future. Hopefully, we see this become it's own league, similar to what the AFL are doing, as well as really taking it to its biggest rival.


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