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Women's players get major boost amid uncertainty

The Australian Jillaroos squad has been given a major boost with the RLPA ready step in and financially contribute to the players' elite contracts amid the disruption caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

RLPA CEO Clint Newton has reassured Australia's elite group of 20, who are on modest contracts, they will work with the NRL to ensure whatever money left owed to the players will be paid in full, but otherwise at least be subsidised by the association.

There are hopes the NRLW can be salvaged but, like the men's Telstra Premiership, the Holden Women's Premiership faces an uncertain future in the current climate.

Newton, in a News Corp report on Tuesday night, said the RLPA had the funds to support the group.

“We feel it’s necessary to make those payments to the women. We need to work through the distributions and varying amounts with the players," he told The Courier-Mail.

“My number one priority is to protect the game and protect everyone in it ... It’s been a challenging process to work through. But I’m really happy with today."

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The National Championships and Queensland's inaugural BHP Premiership were officially cancelled on Friday but the NSWRL is yet to make a call on its Harvey Norman Premiership.

If the NRLW were to be cancelled, the elite female players could still potentially get some game time in the NSW competition depending on whether it goes ahead.

The potential to play NRLW games as double-headers during the men's finals series up to late December is also not out of the question.

The make-up of the four teams in the competition could also change due to the Warriors' current financial situation and New Zealand's recent border restrictions.

"The NRLW remains an important consideration in ongoing discussions around the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic," an NRL spokesperson said.

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

The NSWRL announced last week that nine competitions had been called off for the season but excluded the HNWP, men's Sydney Shield and Ron Massey Cup competitions, along with grassroots community rugby league from its list of definite cancellations.

The HNWP fields 11 teams over a three-month competition and has more than 30 players who played in the NRLW last year secured for the opening half of the season.

The fate of the women's State of Origin match, originally scheduled for the Sunshine Coast Stadium in June, is also yet to be determined along with the Prime Minister's XIII match and the Jillaroos' representative calendar.

With the women's 2021 World Cup less than 18 months away, any rugby league fixtures for the incumbent Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns representatives will be welcomed, no matter how late in the year it's played.

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