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Baby steps key to NRLW growth

Behind the success of the inaugural NRL Holden Women's Premiership in 2018 will be internal reviews into the competition's next move.

What has the code learnt? How do the players feel? Were four weeks enough? Were four teams enough?

The standard of rugby league and player workload were always at the forefront.

For a lot of the women taking part in the first-ever NRLW competition, there have been sacrifices.

Broncos fullback Chelsea Baker has left behind her two children and husband in Gladstone for a month.

Dragons forward Annette Brander took both paid and unpaid annual leave as a legal assistant to drive from Brisbane to Wollongong over six weeks to chase her dream.

There are too many stories to tell and the women would do it all again given the experiences they've had since teaming up in early August.

Some players have endured a full season. Don't let the final four weeks of the men's finals series fool you otherwise.

"They amaze me to be honest, the girls," Broncos coach Paul Dyer said.

"The whole experience as a coach has been very humbling, to see what these girls go through behind the scenes in their own lives to make this whole thing work.

"The reality is small steps. This whole competition and where it's headed, we've all got to take a big deep breath to make sure we do it correctly moving forward.

Roosters back-rower Tazmin Gray.
Roosters back-rower Tazmin Gray. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"This is the start to that process."

Roosters coach Adam Hartigan struggled to have his team training together as a whole until a week before the competition.

Brisbane-based quartet Zahara Temara, Karina Brown, Vanessa Foliaki and Tazmin Gray have racked up the frequent flyer points with trips back and forth to Sydney over the past month.

Baby steps and learning curves for everyone involved.

They're the key messages from the coaches and players within the game, and no doubt the NRL will take the feedback on board.

Roosters coach Adam Hartigan doesn't want to lose what the Tricolours are building if the team won't come together again until late next year.

Studdon sidelined for NRLW decider

With only one-year deals offered across the NRLW season, all players at each club are essentially free agents for next year.

He plans to implement a pre-season strategy to keep most of the players connected.

"They've fit in well and the club has been awesome in terms of making the team feel part of the club in such a short window," Hartigan said.

"We don't want to lose that, we don't want them to just put on jerseys for four weeks and disappear. It's about trying to find ways to keep them in and around the club.

"If the NRL is planning to make changes I think the next step is to play each other twice and start it towards the end of the men's regular season into the finals.

"Play three rounds and align it with home games for each of the clubs. Have a week off and do what we've done now."

Ruan Sims believed the ground work all four teams had delivered over the past three weeks had set a standard that could be improved.

"The longer we are in a professional program the better quality we're going to get," Sims said.

"It needs to be sustainable, we can't just go out and add 16 teams next year without any thought to what the future will look like and how it would impact what we've worked so hard to get. It's a balancing act."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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