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Sport League's elite women get assurances on contracts and hope for season

01:45  01 april  2020
01:45  01 april  2020 Source:   theage.com.au

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Elite NRLW players are set to receive assurances on their Jillaroos contracts for 2020, as well as encouragement their competition will go ahead if the NRL season is able to resume amid the coronavirus crisis. Avoiding a showdown between the game’ s biggest female stars and the NRL

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WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 25: Ali Brigginshaw of Australia celebrates with the trophy after victory during the International Rugby League match between the Australian Jillaroos and the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns at WIN Stadium on October 25, 2019 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images) © Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 25: Ali Brigginshaw of Australia celebrates with the trophy after victory during the International Rugby League match between the Australian Jillaroos and the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns at WIN Stadium on October 25, 2019 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Elite NRLW players are set to receive assurances on their Jillaroos contracts for 2020, as well as encouragement their competition will go ahead if the NRL season is able to resume amid the coronavirus crisis.

Avoiding a showdown between the game's biggest female stars and the NRL, players were told on Tuesday night that the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) would subsidise between $50,000 and $100,000 to pay out the elite contracts.

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The NRL would potentially fund any remainder owed to the game's 20 marquee players. Jillaroos players were signed to marquee NRL contracts in December and received $5000, with the next instalment due to be paid in August.

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It's a win for the game's female stars, who have been left in the dark about their playing future and the viability of the NRLW in 2020.

It's believed NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and RLPA boss Clint Newton will hold a meeting with the elite group on Wednesday to reassure anxious players they are committed to doing whatever possible to make the NRLW viable if the men are able to resume their season.

It will alleviate fears held by some of the game's biggest female stars their competitions including State of Origin and Tests, were set to be canned due to a lack of revenue.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: Sam Bremner of the Blues is tackled during the Women's State of Origin match between New South Wales and Queensland at North Sydney Oval on June 22, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) © Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: Sam Bremner of the Blues is tackled during the Women's State of Origin match between New South Wales and Queensland at North Sydney Oval on June 22, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Many of the game's female stars, including former Australian Jillaroos captain Sam Bremner, have lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic, and risk further financial hardship without rugby league.

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Earlier on Tuesday, Bremner told AAP elite players had been left extremely gutted'' by a lack of communication from the NRL over the viability of the women's competition should games return in 2020.

Currently, the NRL and the RLPA are in negotiations on how to proceed with the men's season on a reduced cost structure, but the future of the women's competition, which was due to be extended and start in August, remains unclear.

While accepting that rugby league may not return at all in 2020, Bremner said the playing group wants to be presented alternative options to run the competition cheaper.

And while saying it's not about the money, Bremner was adamant that female rugby league players centre their lives around the NRLW season.

"I feel that they either don't understand that, they haven't taken the time to have a think about that or they just don't care,'' Bremner said of the NRL. This is huge for us. We've worked so hard to get to this point, and to think they think we're just going to come back next year when they're a bit more financially ready to have us, is just crazy.

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"We're all athletes, we all have families, we can't afford to just hold on and not play rugby league for a year.

"We didn't come this far to only come this far. We should mean more to the NRL than a group that they can just dismiss.''

Broadcast rights for the women's games are negotiated separately, which will be a factor in the NRL's final decision on the viability of the competition.

However, the women's stand alone State of Origin series has proved to be a ratings hit in the past two years.

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