'Huge': Female league stars hail 'milestone moment' for sport

·4-min read
Seen here, Queensland Maroons women's Origin stars celebrate after winning the 2020 series.
Queensland Maroons women's Origin stars will be paid the same as the men after a landmark deal was announced. Pic: Getty

The Queensland Rugby League (QRL) is being praised after making a huge announcement that represents a landmark moment for the women's game.

On Thursday, the QRL said it will pay up to $15,000 to players who take part in next year's women's Origin clash - putting them on par with the what the men earn.

The move is expected to put pressure on the NSW Rugby League to follow suit, with a budget for women's Origin to be discussed at their board meeting next month.

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Under the deal, players selected to take part in a 30-person Origin camp during the NRLW season will be given $4,000 to compensate them things like travel, time off and other expenses.

The 19 players chosen for the final camp before the State of Origin series opener on June 24 will receive another $7,000, while the 18 selected in the match-day squad will get a further $4,000 match payment.

Under the arrangement announced by the Queensland Rugby League on Thursday, the Maroons will pay up to $15,000 to players who take part in next year's women's Origin clash.

QRL chief executive Rohan Sawyer called it a "milestone moment" for the sport in Queensland.

"This is about creating certainty and stability for aspiring Maroons to have the opportunity to come through a genuine career pathway within the female game,” Sawyer said.

"We have identified the commitment the players make to the Maroons by being part of the top squad through to June and, over this time, we want to adequately remunerate them for their commitment."

Pictured here, Qld Maroons women's coach Tahnee Norris celebrates victory over NSW in 2021.
Qld Maroons women's coach Tahnee Norris has given the new pay announcement a big 'thumbs up'. Pic: Getty

Maroons coach Tahnee Norris hailed the decision to offer the same payments to their men and women's State of Origin players, labelling it a game changer.

Norris said the example of Brittany Breayley's withdrawal from this year's campaign highlighted the need for the women's players to be properly compensated for their time and efforts.

Breayley withdrew from the Maroons due to work commitments, a situation Norris believes the pay arrangement would have resolved.

Pay deal is a game-changer for female stars

"You've got one of the best players in Australia that had to withdraw from an Origin side and in tears having to do that," Norris said.

"To be able to say to the girls that we will support you, we will remunerate you and we'll help you along your journey so that you can actually play football.

"You can concentrate on playing football and not have to worry about what's going on in the background.

"You can fully dedicate yourself and your time to the sport."

The deal does however bring into question what will happen if the series expands to three matches, or if men's payments return to the $30,000 figure they were before the pandemic.

Norris is set to announce an emerging squad of women's players later this month ahead of the first of a series of camps in December ahead of the June 24 clash.

For captain Ali Brigginshaw, who began her career having to foot her own bill to represent her state, the deal is a massive moment in the women's game.

"It's not about the money, we play the game in the same spirit but to be rewarded in that time when you're away from family and to play the game in the same spirit is huge," Brigginshaw said.

"It means we can have the best people playing the game. We don't lose anyone to other sports especially and when you're away from work, we're not having girls lose jobs.

"Girls aren't coming into camp stressed because they may lose their job over this."

with AAP

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