The NRLW is set to radically expand in the next 12 months. But is women’s rugby league ready for such rapid growth?

The world of women’s rugby league is changing faster and faster all the time. That’s the thing about progress – it’s a path that leads down a hill, so the further things go, the faster they get there.

And women’s rugby league is hurtling down the hill. Friday night will be the last time the State of Origin series is contested in a single match before it expands to two next year.

After three new clubs joined the NRLW for 2022’s first season the league, flush with success, fast-tracked expansion from two new teams for 2023 to four new sides, meaning the competition will have more than doubled in size in less than three years.

Growing Origin is a no-brainer, but flooding the NRLW with new clubs is a more complex discussion, with some of the game’s biggest names split on whether the league is ready for ten teams.

“It’s nearly doubled with what we’ve got at the moment and we’re already struggling to fill up those last few spots on the teams as is,” Newcastle and New South Wales prop Millie Boyle said.

“I know the game is growing, I’m not sure if it’s growing at the pace where they can put in those new teams.”

Boyle, one of the league’s best players, has questioned if the NRLW can sustain the expansion.,AAP: Dan Himbrechts,

Boyle, a member of the Rugby League Players Association women’s advisory group, also takes issue with what she believes to be a lack of consultation from the NRL on the viability of such radical expansion.

“We’re on there, but they’re going to make their own decisions. I guess they’ll say we’re whining whatever happens – ‘they say we’re not big enough, they say there’s not enough teams, they say there’s too many’,” Boyle said.

“We’ll never be able to make everyone happy. They make the rules and you can’t grow unless you grow. I thought it would be two teams, but it’s not up to me.

“Four teams will be a big jump, I guess with the new marquee spots and the new CBA we’ll spread girls out again and get them to new areas all over the country, especially down in Canberra and up in North Queensland.”


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