NRLW in limbo, Dragons want to play on

St George Illawarra are committed to playing the 2020 NRLW season despite the coronavirus impact.
St George Illawarra are committed to playing the 2020 NRLW season despite the coronavirus impact.

St George Illawarra have confirmed their commitment to the 2020 NRLW season following reports the Sydney Roosters and Warriors would withdraw to cut costs during the NRL shutdown.

The Nine Media reports came as a shock to NRLW players who remain confused about the future of their competition this season - particularly for Roosters and Warriors players who read about their teams' potential withdrawal in the media.

The NRL has denied it has been notified by the Roosters or the Warriors of their plans to withdraw, which would wipe out half of the competition.

Only four teams make up the NRLW, and clubs are primarily responsible for footing the bill for their teams, which is estimated at up to $500,000 a season.

The NRL is now under pressure to cough up the cash to fund the competition if it goes ahead this season.

In a brief statement provided to AAP on Monday, the Dragons said they are waiting to hear the NRL's stance on the women's competition this season, but are determined to play if it is given the green light.

"St George Illawarra are committed to its women's team endeavours in 2020," the statement read.

"The Dragons are awaiting to hear the NRL's stance on the 2020 NRL Women's Premiership and whether it will proceed.

"The unprecedented pandemic everyone is currently facing isn't discriminating. Sporting competitions, regardless of gender, have or are being cancelled and suspended due to Covid-19 globally.

"It is a reflection of the worldwide societal climate, and not on the women's game, if a 2020 edition of the competition doesn't eventuate."

The Broncos, who have won the first two NRLW premierships, have been contacted to confirm if they will field a team this year if the competition goes ahead.

The NRLW was due to be discussed at the ARLC meeting on Monday morning, although a decision on the 2020 competition was not reached.

The belief within rugby league headquarters is it is too early to make a decision on whether to cancel the competition given it is tied heavily to the commercial outcomes of the men's game.

However, given there is clarity over the lower grade competitions and increasing certainties for NRL players, the pressure is building on the NRL and clubs to afford their female stars the same respect amid mounting confusion.

An NRL spokesperson told AAP: "The NRLW remains an important consideration in ongoing discussions around the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The NRL will advise if there are any updates or changes to this when appropriate."

The RLPA has minimal ties to the NRLW but can offer support to the marquee players.

"I think (the 2020 NRLW season) is going to come down to any type of season structure or season schedule that they look to put to broadcasters and what money is available," said RLPA chief executive Clint Newton.

"Obviously it's been a big part of the game's advancement and something they'll need to work through based on the funding arrangements that they look to secure with broadcasters."

Australian Associated Press