Positive signs for NRLW after Origin deal

Pamela Whaley
The NRL says a women's State of Origin clash has been scheduled for November 13

A telephone hook up with interim NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo has given rugby league's elite female players hope the NRLW competition will go ahead in 2020.

After months of uncertainty over the women's game during the coronavirus pandemic, on Thursday the NRL confirmed a stand alone State of Origin will be played on November 13.

It's welcome movement for the game's biggest stars who have been awaiting any certainty over the future of the NRLW, state and international games since the March shutdown.

In the meantime, staff at NRL headquarters are developing a myriad of contingency plans for an NRLW competition that awaits approval from broadcasters.

Everything from extending or shortening the competition is on the table, although it is most likely to replicate the 2018 season with four teams playing double-headers in the NRL finals.

"The women's pathway and the women's competition remains a priority for us so it's really exciting that we're able to announce today a women's State of Origin game," Abdo said as the NRL draw was announced.

"Work continues with broadcasters, clubs and with the playing group over what a premiership season might look like this year.

"We're not in a position to announce anything at the moment but the women's game remains a priority for us."

Women's Origin is one of the most-watched female sports on free-to-air television and is a ratings hit with rights holder Channel Nine.

While there was some early suggestions Origin would be expanded to a three-game series, a stand alone match will be played in the second week of a three-week men's series.

Should an NRLW season go ahead during finals, it would give players 18 days between a grand final and the interstate showdown.

"It's just a tremendous product," Abdo said of women's Origin.

"We get close to a million people watching it so it wasn't, to be honest, ever in debate."