Wests Tigers will field a team in the NRLW for the first time in 2023 after today having its license application approved by the ARL Commission.
It is a landmark day for the joint-venture club which will join nine other NRLW teams in an expanded 10-team competition next year.
Canberra Raiders, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and North Queensland Cowboys are the other teams to be admitted to the Premiership in 2023.
The license approval comes on the back of significant investment in pathways over the past three years in the women’s program, and just a few weeks before the club moves into its new $78m Centre of Excellence within the Concord Oval Community and Sports Precinct.
As a club Wests Tigers is already well established in the women’s game, fielding teams in all representative age groups up to and including the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe says it’s a historic day for the organisation, “We are delighted with the decision to approve our application and we are excited by the opportunities ahead.
I’m thrilled for all the girls we currently have in our system and those who will come into our sport as a result of this.” We have experienced steady growth in female participation in our catchment areas over the past few years, and I’m sure this will not just continue but accelerate.”CEO Justin Pascoe
"We can now say to all those girls and young women who play our game, that one day, they might play in the NRLW with the Wests Tigers.”
It’s also a great day for our members and fans. I know they will embrace our women’s NRLW team and give the girls all the support they deserve.”
It’s a brilliant day for the club.”
Head of Football Tim Sheens has seen first-hand the hard work that has been undertaken to get to this point, “A lot of people have worked around the clock to get our application over the line, and they are to be congratulated.”
From what I’ve seen, we are in a very strong position as a club to field a team in the women’s topflight, and the numbers are there to show that.”Director of Football, Tim Sheens
"We have good pathways systems in place, good people in the right positions, and a vast development area stretching from the Inner West expanding through to the Southwestern corridor.”
Now thousands of young females can aspire to make it to the top with us at the Wests Tigers and play professional rugby league with their local club.”
The NRLW team will train out of the Centre of Excellence alongside West Tigers NRL team, and the synergy doesn’t end there.
The club is pleased to announce that its women’s team will also proudly display the same shirtfront sponsor as the NRL team, with Brydens Lawyers extending its sponsorship to include the NRLW side.
Wests Tigers Chairman and Principal of Brydens Lawyers Lee Hagipantelis says his law firm is elated with the news, “As the major sponsor of Wests Tigers men's team, I will not hesitate to add sponsorship of the NRLW team to our partnership and I do so with incredible enthusiasm and unremitting joy."
Brydens Lawyers has and continues to be committed to sponsorship and promotion of women's sports and the securement of the NRLW licence by Wests Tigers affirms our alignment in ideals and principles.”Principal Brydens Lawyers, Lee Hagipantelis
'I anxiously await the day that I see the NRLW team run out at Leichhardt Oval or Campbelltown Sports Stadium adorned with the Brydens Lawyers logo. Congratulations to all involved in the successful application."
Much like the club’s Harvey Norman Women’s side, the NRLW side will have a heavy emphasis on home grown talent.
Wests Tigers HNW captain Emily Curtain - who grew up playing with the boys teams at Eagle Vale St Andrews - thinks this will do wonders for participation, “It’s been a dream of mine for a few years now to play at the highest level with my local club and now hopefully it can happen.”
There are loads of girls coming through our pathways system as it stands. I’m sure this will lead to more and more girls from our area wanting to play footy.”Emily Curtain
Curtain and twin sister Sophie are among many great development stories for the Wests Tigers. Losana Lutu is another player making rapid progress. The 18-year-old from Leumeah made her HNW Premiership debut at Leichhardt just a few weeks ago and has since gained representative honours with the NSW City Under 19’s team.
Helping these young women along their career paths at the Wests Tigers is injured club captain Botille Vette-Welsh. She is one of a handful of current Wests Tigers players with NRLW experience, and knows what to expect at the elite level.
I’ve been mentoring these girls while I’ve been out injured, and I can’t speak highly enough about their enthusiasm, work ethic, and love for the game.”Botille Vette-Welsh
We’ve seen several players already step up from Tarsha Gale to Harvey Norman, and there are many more within the current group who are now ready for the NRLW."