Canberra have kicked off their bid to field a team in the NRL Telstra Women's Premiership in 2022 or 2023 after raising more than $120,000 at an NRLW fundraiser dinner.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart and the men's NRL squad were among the guests at the National Press Club of Australia on Tuesday night and help support the club's future ambitions of taking part in the women's competition.
The NRLW is considering expanding to six teams in 2021 before the possibility of further expansion in 2022, with Raiders CEO Don Furner telling NRL.com the club would aim for next year in a best-case scenario.
"The night was highly successful, there's a lot of companies who want to support women's sport," Furner told NRL.com.
"The fact it was purely for our future women's team will mean from there we'll be able to tap into those funds to help support our bid to have an NRLW team in the near future.
"At our previous event a couple of years ago we raised about $600,000 when we first built our Centre of Excellence, which will also cater to future women's programs.
"The foundation is there to promote junior growth in rugby league, from scholarships to supporting players in many other ways."
Furner said the club would need to start planning around recruitment for next season should they receive the green light for 2022.
The NRL previously required inaugural clubs to pay a $50,000 fee to enter the women's elite competition, but that is no longer a requirement for future teams.
"That makes the model financially a bit more attractive for us to make a bid when the NRL offers clubs the opportunity," Furner said.
"My big fear is we won't have the quality to be competitive in the first year, so whether it's 2022 or 2023 we'll accept either.
"Locally, we've got enough players and our Tarsha Gale Cup side is competitive now.
"But if they went on to play the Broncos tomorrow who have won three competitions then we need to recruit some other experienced players in."
Two current Jillaroos players, Kezie Apps and Millie Boyle, wouldn't look out of place in the lime green.
Apps, who is based in Bega and makes regular trips to Sydney every weekend to play in the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership, would benefit from the shorter commute.
Dual-code international Millie Boyle is another, hailing from Cobargo and the daughter of former Raider David Boyle and niece of Jason Croker, although she's currently based on the Gold Coast.
The Raiders also have several other ties to the women's game with Jordan Rapana's sister Tazmin Gray playing for the Warriors and Josh Papalii's sister Crystal representing Cronulla in the HNWP.
Yasmin Meakes, partner of former Raider Adam Clydsdale, began her rugby league journey in the nation's capital.
"I was told that Kezie Apps made an enquiry many years ago about playing for the Raiders because she wanted to attend the University of Canberra and do a degree," Furner said.
"We just didn't have a team so she made her way up to Wollongong. We don't want to lose that sort of talent, we want to be able to say we can get you through uni and get you a job.
"We have a lot of girls come to Canberra from the country who are too old for the Tarsha Gale Cup (under 19s) and end up playing rugby union with the Brumbies.
"We want to make sure there's a pathway there so they don't have to play another code or go to Sydney to play regular rugby league."
Day 1 of the Dragons Women's Academy
Dragons Academy takes flight
St George Illawarra officially launched their first women's academy this week as part of their vision to develop future NRLW players at the club.
NRLW coach Mat Head addressed the next crop talent coming through the Dragons' pathways system ahead of his first campaign in charge of the senior side.
"We're starting to put more resources into it and we're going to attack this pretty hard, we want to be a winning club," Head said.
"We want to be a winning club and that's something I'm really passionate about."
The Dragons enjoyed success in the Tarsha Gale Cup this season, winning the title against the Roosters Indigenous side.
Young guns confirmed for Origin curtain-raiser
The squads for the under 19s State of Origin have been announced following the Harvey Norman National Championships last month.
The under 19s clash will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Women's State of Origin game at Sunshine Coast Stadium on June 25.
NSW coach Blake Cavallaro has included an nine players from each of the City and Country sides that played at the tournament.
The remaining player is Indigenous All Stars representative Jaime Chapman, who played for the Tweed Seagulls in Queensland's BHP Premiership.
Chapman has been named at fullback with Dragons NRLW teammate Teagan Berry on the wing.
For the Maroons, under 19s coach Kelvin Wright will trim his 24-player squad to 18 before the match.
Rising player Tiana Raftstrand-Smith has already been called into Tahnee Norris' main squad but could drop back to the 19s game if she's not in the final team.
Queensland: Abelee Stanley, April Ngatupuna, Courtney Tamati, Destiny Brill, Ebony Laing, Emmanita Paki, Faith Tutauha, Fiona Jahnke, Hannah Larsson, Jada Ferguson, Jasmine Peters, Jazmon Tupou-Witchman, Jetaya Faifua, Jordii Mahendrarajah, Keilee Joseph, Makenzie Weale, Nakita Sao, Sara Sautia, Sera Koroi, Tiamo Williams, Tiana Raftstrand-Smith, Traevonnah Fisher, Tyesha Mikaio, Zoe Cook.
NSW: Jaime Chapman, Charlize Lloyd-Phillips, Andie Robinson, Cassey Tohi-Hiku, Teagan Berry, Luisa Yaranamua, Tayla Montgomery, Fatafehi Hanisi, Rueben Cherrington, Rose Lina Tau, Hope Tevaga, Chantel Tugaga, Lilly Baker, Taneka Todhunter, Tegan Dymock, Folau Vaki, Jordyn Preston, Keele Brown, Leilani Wilson.
Hale makes sneaky move south
There was an interesting name on the team sheet in last week's Harvey Norman NSW Premiership round with Kiwi Ferns forward Georgia Hale taking the field for the North Sydney Bears.
Hale played for the Tweed Seagulls in Queensland's BHP Premiership up until a fortnight ago when the side failed to reach the finals.
She received approval from the NSWRL to link with the Bears, who are coming fourth in the NSW competition.
With the NSW competition not finishing for at least another six weeks, Hale will relish the opportunity to get more game time in before the NRLW starts later in the year.
The 25-year-old made the move from New Zealand to Australia this season and is likely to be targeted by rival NRLW clubs following three campaigns at the Warriors.
Queensland's major state competition will wrap up this week with Burleigh taking on minor premiers Valleys Diehards in the final.
Brigginshaw cleared after judiciary scare
Still on the BHP Premiership final and Dally M medal winner Ali Brigginshaw will play in Sunday's decider after being found not guilty of a grade-one dangerous throw charge.
Brigginshaw spent 50 minutes pleading her case at QRL headquarters on Tuesday night before being cleared for the grand final at Totally Workwear Stadium in Brisbane.
The 31-year-old has helped guide Valleys Diehards to the final in their maiden campaign and will be crucial to their chances of lifting the trophy against a star-studded Bears outfit.
The BHP Premiership final will be live streamed on the QRL website on Sunday from 4:00pm.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.