The NRL will postpone its newly-expanded women's competition to next year after Sydney's worsening COVID-19 crisis put pay to a 2021 start date.
Officials told players this week it would be impossible to start the six-team season this year amid the current health situation in Sydney.
An official announcement is expected early next week while an exact schedule is expected to be confirmed over the next month.
AAP understands the competition is likely to start in late January, allowing for a full seven-week season to finish just before the start of the men's competition.
Organisers must also work around the All Stars fixture in February, which will feature players from all of Brisbane, Gold Coast, the Sydney Roosters, Parramatta, St George Illawarra and Newcastle.
That would give the NRLW centre stage for the first time, as opposed to being played as curtain-raisers to men's finals matches in the past.
It will kick off a bumper year for the women's game with players to return to their clubs for state leagues immediately after the NRLW competition.
State of Origin will still be held mid-season, while a second NRLW tournament for 2022 will be held in its normal spot at the end of the men's season.
Women's players will also feature in next year's World Cup in England, virtually making for 11 months of straight football.
Players were initially meant to return to training on Monday for an already postponed NRLW season to kick off in October.
But with a significant number of players living in LGAs of concern in Sydney meant even that was not possible.
A hub was also not considered as a viable option given players still have jobs outside of rugby league, as well as young families.
New clubs Newcastle and Parramatta were also keen to host matches with crowds after making an investment on entering the competition but that could not be guaranteed by the end of this year.
It comes after the AFLW pushed the start of their competition back from December to January on Thursday.