‘Another level’: Two more teams to join NRLW

2023 NRLW Grand Final - Knights v Titans
The NRLW is getting two more teams in 2025. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

The Bulldogs and Warriors will get teams in an expanded NRLW competition that will feature a record 12 teams in 2025 as South Sydney made a pledge to join “when the time is right” for further expansion.

In another historic moment for the growth of women’s rugby league, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo on Thursday confirmed the addition of the two new teams.

The Bulldogs will be the sixth NRLW team in Sydney, while the Warriors are rejoining the competition after financial pressures forced them to withdraw in 2021 after three seasons.

Expansion to 12 teams is the next step in the ARL Commission’s desire for 17 teams in the coming years, having begun with just four in 2018 with the Warriors as one of the foundation sides.

ARLC boss Peter V’landys said the women’s game had gone to “another level” and called the quality of the games “extraordinary”.

“This is evidenced by the popularity of the NRLW competition,” V’landys said.

Tamika Upton scores the matchwinner during the NRLW grand final. Picture Adam Head

“Last year over a million viewers tuned in to watch the NRLW grand final, and we are looking forward to an even bigger and better competition in 2025.

“Investments into participation and pathways will ensure that new teams are competitive as soon as they enter the competition.”

In the inaugural NRLW season, the four teams played just three rounds before gradual expansion to the 10 teams that featured in last year’s nine-round competition.

The inclusion of the Bulldogs and Warriors leaves only Penrith, Manly, South Sydney Melbourne Storm and the Dolphins without NRLW sides.

Rabbitohs chief executive Blake Solly said his club was “committed” to getting a team into the competition.

“We applied to be part of the initial NRLW season and have maintained our application to be part of the competition ever since,” he said.

“We completely understand the NRL’s decision to expand with the Warriors and Bulldogs based on geographic terms in 2025, and we look forward to our opportunity to field a team when the time is right for the NRL’s expansion and our club’s participation plans.”

Abdo said the expansion of the NRLW premiership to a 12-team competition was another important milestone in the code’s strategic growth plan.

“This is an exciting moment for the Telstra Women’s Premiership as we continue to build on the momentum built from previous seasons,” he said.

“The return of the Warriors is an important strategic boost for the women’s game in New Zealand, while the Bulldogs are adding the final step to their program after years of strong investment in the women’s game.

“We are working closely with each and every club to build a comprehensive strategic plan for the NRLW and the women’s game.

“The plan with clubs will see further expansion opportunities in the coming years for which we have seen strong interest and detailed business plans from all 17 clubs. We are looking forward to working with clubs on each of the individual programs over the next couple of years.”