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Maroons star Ali Brigginshaw.

The short-term future of women's rugby league has taken a hit, with possibly more to follow, after the Harvey Norman National Championships scheduled in 2020 was officially cancelled on Friday.

Scheduled to be a six-day tournament in May, the Championships were to act as a selection process for NRLW clubs to recruit new talent to their organisations and to allow for future talent to gain more opportunities at a higher level. 

The tournament's format was set to undergo several changes this season with the game's elite female athletes no longer eligible to participate after concerns around player safety and workload grew louder last season. 

NSW Origin coach Andrew Patmore indicated he was working with the Blues squad on individual programs, while it's understood the Australian Jillaroos coaching staff and NRLW club representatives are working with players to set up alternatives. 

"There were some really good plans ahead and the next three months were going to be the busiest with training camps and carnivals all set to go," Patmore told

"The excitement was building so that’s the hardest thing for us to know is it won’t happen now.

Players share their best #StickySelfie

"From here we're going to try and individualise our support and figure out the best way to socially interact to stay connected. 

"We'll keep some footy knowledge in their heads and start thinking about where else we can go from here."

No announcement has been made on the future of the women's Origin fixture scheduled for the Sunshine Coast in June, or the NRL Holden Women's Premiership later this year.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and ARL chairman Peter V'landys said on Monday the women's schedule was a "priority" but the recent suspension of the men's calendar is likely to have a major impact at all levels.

Patmore has urged his players and staff to remain positive about the situation but conceded there was a possibility the women's game could take a significant hit - whether that be at Origin or NRLW level.

"We're all very realistic about it and understanding how the business works," Patmore said.

"With the NRLW, the clubs fund a lot of that. I've got concerns over that. The commercial side runs our game and pays our bills."

Naturally, Patmore held fears around the overall development of the women's game after strong progression in previous seasons.

"I was in a meeting recently about grassroots and we've got to also be mindful of the kids who won't play for a while and want to stick at their Xbox or PlayStation even if footy does start back up again," he said.

"We've got to rope the kids back into the game as quick as we can.

"We've got to keep the attitude that we're going to play this year and we've got to be semi-ready all the time so if they do push the button and say you've only got three weeks to prepare then we want to be in a position to ramp it up."

No decision has been made on the short-term future of the NSW's premier state competition - the Harvey Norman Women's Premiership - despite the NSWRL announcing nine other competitions were cancelled for the remainder of the year.

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