The Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership will undergo the most significant change in its short history in 2024, with the competition to start later in the season to align with the NRLW and increase the opportunities for female players to pursue professional Rugby League careers.
The state’s premier competition for women, which started in 2005 and expanded into its current format in 2017, will also increase to 12 teams next year following the addition of Parramatta Eels and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
The NSW Women’s Premiership will kick off mid-season with the NRL announcing last month the NRLW competition will start on Thursday 25 July.
The move to run both competitions concurrently will allow the NSW Women’s Premiership to act as a direct pathway into the NRLW, just as The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup does for the NRL.
“In the past our top women’s Rugby League players played with their Harvey Norman teams and then moved onto NRLW clubs,” NSWRL Head of Football Yvette Downey said.
“Aligning our competition with the NRLW will have a positive impact on our elite players by placing less demands on them.
“Also in the past girls graduating from our Under 19s Tarsha Gale Cup were finding it difficult to move forward into a Harvey Norman open team.”
Downey said the NRLW has around 60 per cent of its players coming from the NSW Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership.
“To give our Under 17s and Under 19s players a chance to continue their NSWRL pathway all the way through and then get the opportunity to secure a NRLW contract, the change in the 2024 schedule has been made,” she said.
The NSWRL has always been a strong advocate for Women’s Rugby League, with competitions also scheduled in 2024 for the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup (Under 19s), Lisa Fiaola Cup (Under 17s) and Women’s Country Championships (Open Age players from regional NSW).
The Lisa Fiaola Cup, which has been previously run as a gala day and has been promoted to competition status in 2024, will be split into metropolitan and regional competitions, while the Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup for Under 19s will enter its eighth season of competition.
All three competitions are scheduled to start in February.