The NRLW is poised 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 than ever. That’s the thing about progress: it’s a path that leads downhill, so the further things go, the faster they get there.

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

After three new clubs joined the NRLW for the first season of 2022, the successful league has fast-tracked expansion from two new teams for 2023 to four new teams, 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 biggest names in the game divided on whether the league is ready for ten teams.

“It’s almost doubled with what we have at the moment and we’re already struggling to fill those last places in the teams as they are,” said Newcastle and New South Wales booster Millie Boyle.

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

A Brisbane Broncos NRLw player stands with the ball as three Warriors opponents tackle her.
Boyle, one of the best players in the league, has questioned whether the NRLW can sustain expansion.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

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

“We’re there, but they’re going to make their own decisions. I guess they’ll say we’re complaining no matter what: ‘They say we’re not big enough, they say there aren’t enough teams, they say there are too many,'” Boyle said.

“We can never 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 featured venues and the new collective bargaining agreement we will distribute the girls again and take them to new areas across the country, especially Canberra and North Queensland.”

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