Defence Force enters Women's National Championship
Clubs competing in the inaugural NRL Women's Premiership will have their first opportunity to target foundation recruits with the Harvey Norman National Championships set to take place on the Gold Coast from June 1-3.
Six teams will compete in the three-day competition with sides representing NSW and Queensland City-Country regions, the Combined Affiliated States and Defence Force.
It marks the first time a Defence Force side will compete in the championships.
Officials from St George Illawarra, the Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos and NZ Warriors will watch on with interest with an emphasis to pencil in some of the best female talent for the competition kicking off in September.
All members of the women's elite top-40 squad are set to compete on the weekend at Owen Park in Southport, while players based in New Zealand will have similar trials in Auckland under the New Zealand Rugby League.
It's understood the negotiation process between clubs and players will begin with the elite squad, as the NRL is keen to equally spread the group across the four teams.
Discussion remains ongoing over the official signing process, and if there is going to be a salary cap set.
"The Championship is one of several women's rugby league matches and events throughout 2018," Senior Manager of elite women's programs Tiffany Slater said.
"We're in the middle of State competitions, we've got State of Origin in June, the Premiership in September, and a Test Match against New Zealand in October.
"There's a lot more women's rugby league action to come, which is exciting for players and fans alike."
QRL managing director Rob Moore said the Gold Coast was an ideal location for the national titles.
"In June, the best female rugby league players will be aiming to secure overall victory for their team and I'd encourage fans to head along to Owen Park and cheer on the competition," Moore said.
"Our Queensland men's championship and our Women's Emerging carnival will be running alongside the national championshipd, so there's plenty of rugby league to look forward to."
The championships will also offer the chance for players outside the women's elite top-40 squad to push their claims, while the NRL will hold a 'Talent ID Day' on May 31, in a bid to attract athletes from rival sports and other current players to test themselves in a skills-based program.
Interested players will need to provide a suitable medical report and complete a Level 2 tackling course as part of the registration.
Meanwhile, Jillaroos stars Corban McGregor and Sam Bremner discussed the upcoming process of negotiating with clubs with NRL.com reporter Katie Brown on Friday and the possibility of linking with player managers.
"It's just really exciting to think I'm going to play with an NRL club," McGregor said.
"I'm open to anything, being a young mum I live in the Shire so for me a club that's not too far would be ideal. I'll be playing for one of the Sydney teams hopefully - the Roosters or Dragons."
Bremner said the girls were adjusting to the prospect of clubs putting out interest in their services.
"This is just speaking on behalf of myself, I don't earn enough money as a player – with nothing against the NRL, that's just we are at – to pay somebody to manage it for me," Bremner said.
"I know what I want, and what I don't want, and am comfortable to make those decisions. My preference is to manage myself."
Harvey Norman Chief Executive Katie Page was delighted that the event would continue on from the success of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
"These women are the nation's best NRL players and an indication of the depth of extraordinary talent in the game.
"Harvey Norman is so proud to support all the teams competing at the National Championships. Each team is deserving of individual accolade, but we are particularly excited to see the women of the Australian Defence Force Team take the field."
The national championships will be live-streamed via the QRL website.
Further information on the 2018 Harvey Norman Women's National Championship and NRL Talent ID will be available closer to both events at www.nrl.com/womens.