NRLW competition postponed

NSW women's State of Origin coach Kylie Hilder from Forster.

NSW women's State of Origin coach Kylie Hilder from Forster.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the game explored "all options" in an attempt to have the Telstra Women's Premiership played this year but its postponement has now been confirmed until early in 2022.

Abdo announced on this week that the fourth season of the newly expanded NRLW competition, which was due to begin in October, would be played early in the new year due to the COVID-19 pandemic in NSW.

This will impact on former Old Bar resident Holli Wheeler, who plays with St George-Illawarra and Gloucester's Tayla Predebon, who has signed with the Sydney Roosters. Kylie Hilder from Forster, the NSW women's State of Origin coach, has a coaching role with the Sydney Roosters.

The postponement of the newly expanded six-team competition will kick-start a bumper 2022 schedule that includes the Ampol Women's State of Origin, a fifth season of NRLW and the World Cup.

"The rescheduling provides us with an opportunity to create a full 12-month calendar for women's rugby league in 2022 and importantly means our athletes will not have to relocate," Abdo said.

RELATED:

"This [delay] presents an opportunity to build the profile of the women's game next year and we are looking forward to making the most of that opportunity.

"The decision highlights the commission's absolute commitment to ensuring the 2021 season is played."

Pre-season training for NRLW clubs was initially meant to begin on Monday but plans were scrapped due to the majority of players living in Greater Sydney's local government areas of concern directly affected by the recent outbreak in the state.

Tayla Predebon from Gloucester will now have to wait until 2022 to debut for the Sydney Roosters.

Tayla Predebon from Gloucester will now have to wait until 2022 to debut for the Sydney Roosters.

Abdo said increased COVID-19 cases, tighter border restrictions in Australia and the complex nature of female athletes being part-time players all contributed to the decision.

"We explored all avenues, but it is simply not possible," Abdo said.

"When the men's competition was relocated to Queensland there were 77 cases in NSW on that day.

We explored all avenues, but it is simply not possible.

"There's now consistently over 1000 cases a day and restrictions around border closures are much tighter than they were in the middle of the year.

"We also acknowledge that nearly all of our NRLW athletes are not full-time athletes.

"They have careers off the field that limit the ability to relocate for a long period of time and that's something we also considered carefully."

Holli Wheeler from Old Bar plays with St George-Illawarra

Holli Wheeler from Old Bar plays with St George-Illawarra

The NRL will also need to factor in the annual women's All Stars fixture around the postponed competition, while there will also need to be an agreement in place with the NSWRL and QRL around the lengths of their respective club seasons.

NRL.com understands NRLW players who secured deals for the 2021 season will remain contracted to their clubs, however, some movement is expected in squads given the latest changes.

The NRL is working with several relocated players from NRLW clubs on their returns both domestically and internationally, including seven from New Zealand who are currently based in Newcastle.

Like the Warriors' NRL side, they will wait on details around their return to New Zealand.

Most players who relocated from Queensland to NSW have already begun 14-day quarantines in Brisbane upon their return into the state.

NRL.com

This story NRLW competition has been postponed until early 2022 first appeared on Manning River Times.