The NRL Telstra Women's Premiership will expand to 10 teams in 2023 after an history announcement made by the NRL on Wednesday.
Here is all you need to know about the expansion.
Who are the new teams coming into the NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership?
The new teams are the Canberra Raiders, Cronulla Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers. All four clubs submitted a licence in April for the 2023 season.
Who are the other teams in the NRLW?
The four new clubs will join Brisbane Broncos, Gold Coast Titans, Newcastle Knights, Parramatta Eels, St George Illawarra Dragons and Sydney Roosters, who all competed in the 2021 NRLW competition.
Why is the NRLW expanding from six to 10 teams in 2023?
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo explained the ARL Commission's decision to increase the amount of teams to 10 in 2023 on Wednesday.
"It's a combination of things, we have really strong pathway programs, huge growth in participation and a commitment from clubs that are ready in terms of facilities and existing infrastructure," Abdo said.
"The fact we have our NRLW on free-to-air on Nine and Fox Sports is also huge for us and the ratings have been magnificent.
"We wouldn't be able to accelerate the growth without the investment and commitment from our partners. Telstra as the naming rights partner are right behind us around expanding the amount of teams."
Abdo: We want the best athletes in the world
Will the NRLW expand again in 2024?
Abdo has left the door open for more NRLW expansion in 2024 - whether it's more teams or games - after further interest from remaining NRL clubs to join competition in coming years.
"We're looking for further expansion in 2024 and onwards. Those clubs that submitted proposals to be ready for 2024, those next steps are to engage with them and make that announcement as soon as possible," Abdo said.
"We've had strong interest from almost every NRL club, it's a question on timing and when their programs comes aligned. Some clubs are building centres of excellence and some are building from the bottom up in terms of grassroots and participation."
How many games will be played in the 2023 NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership?
Teams are set to play each other once, meaning there will be nine regular rounds before a finals series takes place (semi-finals and a grand final).
It will run across 11 weeks overall.
When will the 2023 NRLW begin?
The full schedule for the 2023 season will be confirmed at a later date.
"We need to do a lot of the work [around that] but it will take place around 11 weeks," Abdo said.
Where will I be able to watch the 2023 NRLW season?
Abdo indicated major broadcasters Channel Nine and Fox Sports are set to show all games in 2023.
"They are well and truly behind us," Abdo said.
"Many of the female athletes are becoming full-time professionals. We want to maximise their exposure to fans for what we believe is an unbelievable product."
Will there be a salary cap for the 2023 NRLW season?
Abdo said the upcoming collective bargaining agreement would determine the salary cap figure next year but expected a financial rise for players.
"We are working currently with the RLPA, so that's part of the discussion. There will be significant growth in the number of contracted players and significant growth in the salary cap. It will be reward for our female athletes.
"We want to attract the best athletes in Australia. Some of that is around what they earn and other is development and experience."
NRLW Expansion Announcement
Why is foundation club, the Warriors, not included after their withdrawal in 2021?
Abdo explained the Warriors' recent challenges relocating to Australia was a factor in their NRLW side not returning in 2023.
"We're on the brink of getting the Warriors back home which they're very excited about and for them it's about rebuilding and consolidating their position back in New Zealand and then thinking about re-entering the NRLW soon after.
"The Warriors are important for our men's and women's competitions and it's important for us to have that natural pathway in New Zealand.
"Those athletes based in New Zealand who want to relocate will certainly be supported by the NRL and clubs."
When will the 2022 NRL Telstra Women's Premiership begin?
The 2022 NRLW season is set to kick off in August with a five-round and two-week finals series scheduled.
More information around a 2022 draw is expected in the coming weeks.
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