NRLW players and clubs in limbo as they await post-CBA contracts to be issued

High-profile players are being lured to rivals and young stars are at risk of losing contracts as clubs scramble to sign NRLW players without a CBA degree. Fear is mounting, writes PAMELA WHALEY.

It has been three weeks since the NRL and RLPA agreed on the key financial terms for women’s football. It was a game changer, offering job security, raises, a fair parenting program, and a plan to bring professionalism and expansion to the game’s female players.

The relief at that time was enormous. After months of lengthy and ugly negotiations with the NRL, the two parties finally (in principle) reached an agreement.

It was prioritized over the men’s CBA, both said, so the women of the game would not suffer with their lives in suspension any longer than necessary. Worries about where they would live for large parts of the year, whether they would be able to get pregnant and keep their jobs, or even train and play with their state competition teams – all of that should go away.

It was a really exciting and historic day for the game. Bail and security were on the way.

But they’re still waiting.

The finances have been agreed in principle, but the first women’s collective agreement has not yet been officially concluded. That could happen as early as next week, but timing is entirely dependent on both the NRL and RLPA signing the document.

By then, the NRLW contract period has not yet started, leaving the game’s players and clubs in limbo where they have been longer than ever needed.

Of course, desperation is widespread – both among players and clubs trying to build a squad, either as an expansion team for the first time or to retain the players they had last season.

The seven-week NRLW pre-season is scheduled to begin in late May with competition scheduled to begin in July, so time is of the essence.

To meet the deadline and track success, clubs are making wild promises of money scrambling to secure a Jillaroo or two on multi-year contracts (now that they’ve been given the green light) while attempting to register a squad without building up contracts.

At least one club has been told by a handful of their internationals that they will not return this season because the money on offer from a close rival is too good to pass up.

One of the game’s most famous players has also revealed to her club that she won’t play for them next season because she has agreed to join a rival.

Her name was withheld simply because once she has signed something, it is not legally binding. Where she will play is still unclear.

That’s the problem with the offer letters being presented to players at the moment.

They will mean nothing once the frenetic contract phase begins and that creates a worrying situation in women’s football. Clubs can have talks and promises of four-star halfbacks, for example, but the reality of the $900,000 salary cap for this season and the assembling of a top-24 roster will soon level the playing field.

Backflips on both sides are guaranteed. Promises are broken.

While the representative players and international stars in the 10 teams are in great demand, the depth at each club is also tested.

Worryingly, some young players without proper representation have been told their state league contracts are in jeopardy if they sign for a rival NRLW club.

The reality of contract termination is tenuous, as a contract is binding for the season. But the threat of losing his place in a Landesliga club is a compelling incentive for any player currently contemplating his future to sign for an NRLW club.

At the most basic level, it’s a horrible way of treating young women who provide the platform for future generations of NRLW and threatens to turn players away from the game.

But unfortunately it shows how desperate clubs are to get an idea of ​​what kind of squad they will be working with this season once it starts.

All of this has created a mountain of anxiety among players, who face another week of uncertainty pending a deal in place, a draw released and the contract greenlit for the year.

Just a month ago, people thought the frustration couldn’t get any higher. But here we are.

Pamela Walley

Pamela WalleyStaff writer

Pamela Whaley is a Sydney-based sportswriter with over a decade of industry experience. Pamela started out as a cadet at The Daily Advertiser in Wagga Wagga, moved to Sydney in 2014 and began writing features and news for NRL magazine Big League. She has since worked at Fox Sports as senior editor for digital NRL content and at the Australian Associated Press as a sportswriter, covering A-League, cricket and NRL. She grew up playing soccer, touch soccer and netball, but her true passion is storytelling, particularly rugby league. NRLW players and clubs in limbo as they await post-CBA contracts to be issued

Ryan Sederquist

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