NRL set for huge change to Women's State of Origin after fury over 'ridiculous' farce

There was widespread backlash when Queensland won the 2023 series despite it finishing 1-1.

NSW and Queensland players, pictured here after the Women's NRL State of Origin.
Queensland won the Women's NRL State of Origin in 2023 despite the series finishing 1-1. Image: Getty

The NRL has listened to the pleas of fans and pundits and confirmed there will be three Women's State of Origin games in 2024. There was widespread backlash earlier this year when NSW and Queensland drew the Origin series 1-1, with the Maroons retaining the Shield on points differential.

Because it was only a two-game series, Queensland kept the Shield despite losing in the second game. The Maroons won 18-10 in Game I, and NSW's 18-14 victory in Game II meant Queensland led 32-28 overall.

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There have been numerous calls to expand the series to three games to be in line with the men's game, and those pleas have been answered. According to reports, the NRL will announce a three-game women's Origin series for 2024 and beyond when the official draw is released next week. All games will again be held as stand-alone fixtures, and players will receive a significant financial boost considering the $15,000 match payment for playing in an Origin game.

Queensland players, pictured here celebrating with the women's State of Origin shield.
Queensland players celebrate with the women's State of Origin shield. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Channel 9 commentator Phil Gould was among the many to blast the farcical two-game series earlier this year. "If a two-game series ends 1-1, what happens then? How do you have a two-game series? One-all and we'll go on aggregate? Please. I'll be campaigning for a decider. Don’t worry girls, I'll get you a decider. I'll find a ground for them…come and play at Belmore if you like. I'll put it on."

NSW player Tiana Penitani said previously: “I would love to see it go to three games. It was the best case scenario to show the people at the top that make those decisions that two games isn’t ideal for our game.

“It was a bit of a weird feeling. We were excited to have won the game but realised quite quickly it didn’t mean we got to hold onto the shield. It was bittersweet and it kind of felt very different to what Origin normally feels like."

Queensland captain Tamika Upton described the situation as "crap", while commentator Quentin Hull said: “Watching the losing team in an Origin game celebrate at full time is just a bad look. These are the dumb images the game could have prevented.”

NRLW competition won't expand in 2024

Meanwhile, officials are set to keep the NRLW competition at 10 teams after expanding in 2023. The league had written to the seven clubs without NRLW sides late last season to ask when they felt they would be ready to enter the competition.

There were suggestions the women's competition could expand to 12 teams in 2024, which is one year ahead of what most had expected. But the NRL has decided against further expansion in 2024, with two extra teams likely to join in 2025.

There have been concerns from players and coaches about expanding too early, particularly considering at least 60 per cent of players are already signed to deals for next year. According to AAP, plans are in place to increase the talent pool for further expansion in 2025.

The NSW Rugby League is poised to move their women's premiership into the NRLW window next year, creating a proper reserve-grade competition. A full Under-17s competition will also be introduced in the Lisa Fiaola Cup, mirroring the men's pathways for teenage competitions. NRLW players will likely be given the chance to play in a NSWRL pre-season club competition prior to the Origin series, while Queensland's State Cup will still operate over the first half of the year.

with AAP

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