Kiwis' Ferns aim to press NZ's NRLW case

New Zealand's players are hoping their clash with Australia in the Women's Rugby League World Cup will serve as a reminder of their nation's need to have an NRLW team.

The NRLW will expand to 10 teams in 2023 but New Zealand won't have a presence in the competition.

The Warriors were one of the foundation clubs of the competition in 2018 but complications following the COVID-19 pandemic has meant they have been absent since the start of the 2021 season.

Thursday's (Friday AEDT) final group stage game between the two heavyweight nations in York could be a springboard for the best locally-based New Zealand prospects to show their worth.

"We have so much talent back home," said Gold Coast winger Madison Bartlett.

"We've heard so many things as to why the Warriors don't have a team (and) it's disappointing.

"Our club games back at home aren't recorded so it makes it hard for girls to be seen to sign those contracts."

Seven members of the Kiwi Ferns squad are drawn from the local competition in Auckland including winger Katelyn Vaha'akolo.

The 22-year-old played the 2021 NRLW season with Newcastle before going unsigned for the 2022 campaign.

She has spent time juggling between league and union and said the lack of pathway would inevitably mean emerging Kiwi talent would opt for the 15-a-side code.

"A lot of Kiwi girls can't just move to Aussie and make those sacrifices," she told AAP.

"It's frustrating because there's not as many opportunities.

"I would really love to play in the NRLW and I think I deserve to be in there again but it's up to me to work hard and prove myself.

"I would love to keep playing league but if the opportunity comes up for rugby union and I feel like it's right, I'd take it."