Controversy erupts over NRL's 'bizarre' call on women's State of Origin

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
The NRL has opted to make women's State of Origin a two-game series, a decision coaches and players have been left confused by. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
The NRL has opted to make women's State of Origin a two-game series, a decision coaches and players have been left confused by. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The NRL's decision to make the women's State of Origin series to a two-game series has left both coaches and players baffled, with many labelling the move 'bizarre'.

The league has been keen to expand the women's game, increasing the NRLW from six to 10 teams next season, however the increase to just two Origin games instead of three left captains from both teams scratching their heads.

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In the event of a ties series, the shield will go to the previous series winner - meaning Queensland will win this year's series if it is tied thanks to their victory in last year's one-off match.

Blues captain Kezie Apps and coach Kylie Hilder both admitted they were confused by the move, as did Queensland coach Tahnee Morris.

All three agreed it would have been substantially better for the series to move to a three-game format this season.

Morris said a two-game series would not showcase what makes Origin the spectacle that it is at its best.

"This is the best of the best, this game, I think it deserves three ... I was (confused) a little bit," she said.

"If we win this year and get the first game next year, the second game is a dead rubber.

"We want to go three, I think it deserves it ... people want to see the best of the best."

Apps said it made very little sense for there not to be a series decider each year, with results from 12 months prior taking on additional meaning under the planned system.

"I would have preferred to jump straight to three - it can be 1-1 and then how do you decide?" Apps told AAP.

"It's just bizarre having two games and it doesn't really make sense to me, but hopefully it only lasts for one year and maybe the year after we can push that to three Origins just like the men."

Women's State of Origin move leave captains and coaches baffled

Similarly, NSW coach Hilder said there was a risk the games could lack meaning an tension if there was a strong liklihood a series could be decided on the result of a match 12 months prior.

"It's great they're increasing it from one to two, but I'm a bit confused by two," said.

"If you're going to increase it, it should just go to three.

"It'll be interesting next year if it happens to be 1-1, it's very deflating for the girls to walk away from an origin series where there's no winner, or the winner is going to be determined by the previous year's winner."

The additional women's Origin game comes as the NRLW expands, with Canberra, Cronulla, North Queensland and the Wests Tigers to join for the 2023 season.

The NRL initially planned to add two teams in 2023 and two more in 2024, but has instead opted to fast track to 10 teams for next year. The 2020 competition was played by just four clubs.

The rapid growth has prompted fears the competition could witness to regular blowout scorelines due to lack of depth in talent.

Blues captain Kezie Apps was left confused by the 'bizarre' move to make women's State of Origin a two-game series. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Blues captain Kezie Apps was left confused by the 'bizarre' move to make women's State of Origin a two-game series. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

"We're doing it in a strategic manner to ensure we don't dilute the quality of the game on the field," said Abdo.

"This is quick but it's no quicker than we believe that we can produce. That's a credit to the four (new) clubs.

"Our total national participation is 35,000, when we started the NRLW in 2018 it was 10,000.

"We're very comfortable that the quality won't be compromised."

Abdo couldn't give a specific date on when the other remaining clubs could expect to be given NRLW teams and said, as things stand, only clubs with existing men's NRL sides will be considered for licences.

The NRLW remains the only women's competition in Australia without a collective bargaining agreement and Abdo was unable to confirm when female athletes could expect to be full-time professionals.

He did concede the salary cap would increase in 2023.

With AAP

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