WOMEN'S RUGBY LEAGUE
Call to include NZ in women's NRL comp
Kiwi Ferns coach Tony Benson has called on the game's governing body to include a New Zealand side in the women's competition set to kick off in 2018.
The NRL is working on the finer details of a women's tournament and it is likely to include between 4-6 teams and take place during the finals series of the men's competition.
Benson believes a New Zealand side is simply a must after the nation's outstanding showing in the women’s competition at the recent World Cup.
New Zealand fell just short of glory, losing 23-16 to the top-ranked Australian Jillaroos in a nail-biter at Suncorp Stadium.
The talent is clearly there for a Kiwi team to work, with Benson saying it is now up to the NRL to ensure it happens.
"It's well overdue. You can see the standard of rugby league that was out there during the World Cup final. You spread them around a few clubs and you will have a really good competition," Benson said.
"We don't know if there will be a New Zealand team, we haven't heard anything, but that would be ideal. That would be perfect.
"The money won't be like the men's competition so it is unlikely the players will be relocating with their families. For it to work I think we need a New Zealand team."
Benson's thoughts were echoed by Kiwi Ferns winger Honey Hireme who was one of the stars of the World Cup, with the 36-year-old scoring 13 tries in four matches.
Hireme wants the up-and-coming female talent in New Zealand to have the opportunity she never received – a clear professional pathway to national selection.
"We've got so much young talent coming through New Zealand. If we had that pathway for young girls it would be huge," Hireme said.
Jillaroos coach Brad Donald is right behind the idea, believing that a team in New Zealand must be included if a female competition is to be successful.
"They are ready to go aren't they? They can basically pull a national team together and stick it in the competition," Donald said.
"Again, one of the things we want to see if we get to the point where we have an NRL competition is that people want to watch it.
"The girls have worked hard, all of these girls have worked hard to get there. They've earnt their right to be a part of it and the Kiwi Ferns are definitely that.
"They've come a long way this year so I'd support a New Zealand team and their inclusion."