Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The 2021 NRLW season was recently postponed until February next year as a result of the current COVID-19 situation in Australia, which has led to a divide between NRLW players and the NRL.
As a result of the season’s postponement, players will receive relief payments of $3,500, with the competition’s 30 centrally contracted players having their contracts for the year paid out in full on top of said relief payments.
However, the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) is bemused and angered over the fact that the NRL did not disclose this information to them before telling the players individually, which has resulted in NRLW talent boycotting two meetings with the NRL.
Sydney Roosters player and players’ union board member Hannah Southwell has led the charge and recently spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I found that inappropriate,” Southwell said.
“I texted to say it was great there was an update, but we’d still like the information to be sent to the RLPA beforehand. He [Andrew Abdo] just didn’t reply.
— Katie Brown 🤸🏼♀️ (@katiebrownaus) September 10, 2021
“So we told all the girls we’ve got to stand together and we’re not going to jump on the meeting. So, that’s what we did.”
It is believed that the main issue Southwell and the RLPA wanted to discuss was the disparity in treatment of elite players on central contracts, of which Southwell is one, and the rest of the NRLW players.
RLPA President Clint Newton has also spoken out on the issue.
“As the players’ representative, I don’t think you could ever underestimate just how much courage it takes to step forward into an uncomfortable situation like what they were faced with and say no, that’s not how we want to engage and communicate,” he said.
“It’s about establishing clear lines of the expectations of all parties. It’s what we believe the women deserve.
“At the moment we don’t believe so, but we certainly welcome the opportunity to unpack what has been proposed.”
This situation is far from over, with further developments likely to come out soon as the NRLW players and the RLPA fight for the equal treatment of all its players.