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'World's best sport': Lenarduzzi's vision to grow game after RLPA role

Broncos and Maroons forward Chelsea Lenarduzzi says she wants to help make women’s rugby league one of the strongest female sports in the world after joining the RLPA board.

Lenarduzzi was announced as the second NRLW player to join the RLPA board alongside NSW and Knights forward Hannah Southwell this week, after more than 12 months on the women's player advisory group. 

The pair will sit beside the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans, Daly Cherry-Evans, Christian Welch, Wade Graham and Josh Hodgson and discuss key matters within the game. 

Of the most immediate concern for Lenarduzzi is the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations, the first of its kind for the women’s game, that is set to shape at least the next five years.

“Everyone wants to be a role model and leave the game in a better place and with the CBA negotiations coming up the timing is perfect really,” Lenarduzzi told NRL.com.

“Of course, being a current player I have an agenda, which is to drive the women's game forward. Hannah and I together, and the whole player advisory group, will be able to push for levels we’ve never gone before.

Maroons prop Chelsea Lenarduzzi has joined the RLPA Board.
Maroons prop Chelsea Lenarduzzi has joined the RLPA Board. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

“There’s a lot of us in the women’s advisory group that help and with us both on the board now it’s a stepping stone for the women to progress.

“Hannah is in NSW and I’m in Queensland so we can kind of get a feel for most people’s opinions while also touching base with those in regional areas.

“We want as many people’s voices from across different states and regions to be filtered through to get the best outcome. I feel like this is a way I can do that and have it affect a lot of people in a big way.”

Lenarduzzi noted the recent AFLW announcement around their increase in minimum wage as an insight into where the NRLW could potential get to with the new CBA agreement.

“It’s incredible for the AFLW girls, really good to see and I think that will help us, it’s given the NRL and a bit of a baseline and hopefully compete with other codes financially,” Lenarduzzi said.

“We all want women’s rugby league to be the best female sport in the country and in the world and should be striving for that.”

Meanwhile, Lenarduzzi said she had no concerns over the recent departures of Millie Boyle and Tamika Upton to Newcastle and Lauren Brown to the Titans.  

The trio all signed marquee contracts at rival clubs last month but the Broncos have responded with the signings of Dragons centre Jaime Chapman and Kiwi international Annetta Nu’uausala this week.

“We’ve lost players before and managed to be competitive every year,” Lenarduzzi said.

“The Broncos as a club and our team, it’s never been about an individual, it’s always about the team.

“One or three people leaving, it’s not something that has us worried.

“Everyone is talking about who has left but we’ve actually retained most of our team so everyone will have that hunger after such a disappointing semi-final. We’re all keen to get back.”

Ampol Little Origin is back in 2022!

Lenarduzzi will turn her immediate attention to preparing for the upcoming Ampol Women’s State of Origin clash on June 24 after being named in a 22-player squad on Monday.

The Maroons prop was in the thick of the battle last season, involved in a 69th minute penalty that enabled Queensland to take an 8-6 victory on the Sunshine Coast.

“We’ve been training for once a week for a few weeks now and follow a program so it hasn’t been much of a break during NRLW seasons.

“It should be a great game, both states have picked really good squads and all the girls are coming off really good NRLW seasons.

"From a personal point of view the move from the QRL to make it as professional as possible the last few months is really good. We’ve been supported for a long time and it’s showing in our training.”

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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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