NRLW expansion an ‘unreal’ opportunity for female rugby league players in North Queensland

Jasmine Peters was 12 when she was unexpectedly pushed into rugby league.

Most important points:

The Cowboys will be allowed to enter the NRLW from next year. The sport has experienced tremendous growth in Northern Queensland. The local women’s team, the Gold Stars, is buzzing with young talent

“My mom doesn’t like this story,” she laughed.

Peters’ football practice was canceled the same day as her school’s big rugby final, and she convinced her father to take her with him.

“We went to the Mackay Junior Rugby League pitch, and I played my very first rugby league,” she said.

“I also happened to get Man of the Match – or Woman of the Match -.”

Jasmine Peters is one of eight Gold Stars players from North Queensland to sign with the NRLW this year. (ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling)

Peters is now 19 and a rising star in the NRLW.

She debuted this year for the Gold Coast Titans and played for the North Queensland Gold Stars, the regional team in the state competition.

The young squad consists of Townsville, Cairns, and Mackay players who train in satellite squads with local talent.

Eight Gold Stars were signed to the NRLW this year as the sport’s popularity increased.

“Girls come through with much more knowledge about rugby league and playing at a semi-professional level at a much younger age,” said coach Gavin Lloyd.

The North Queensland Gold Stars played their first game at Townsville Stadium this year. (Supplied: North Queensland Cowboys)

female rugby league

The growth of the NRLW

Soon more women from North Queensland, considered the heart of the rugby league, would have the chance to play at the highest level.

The NRLW is on the cusp of a major expansion, with the Cowboys applying between different teams to compete in the league from 2023.

“I love it,” says Peters.

“Just the fact that we get enough screen time, we get enough audience watching us, it becomes a bigger game, and it creates those opportunities for other girls to be a part of the sport at that higher elite level.”

Gold Stars player Lauren Moss has her sights set on an NRLW debut. (ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling)

Putting on a Cowboys shirt would be a dream come true for Gold Stars players like Lauren Moss, who had her sights set on an NRLW debut.

“This is the best news I’ve heard all year,” Moss said.

The 30-year-old miner, who was recruited to the Titans Squad of the Year but never played first-class, only started rugby league about six years ago.

Lauren Moss plays for the North Queensland Gold Stars. (Supplied: North Queensland Cowboys)

“I was just doing it for fun and the fun of it, but seeing the trails and seeing where we can go with it makes it more exciting,” she said.

“It drives you, even more to want to do more and be better because you can know where to go — you can end up in the NRL.”

Making history

As part of the NRLW expansion, teams will move to a salary cap of $350,000, increasing players’ salaries by an average of 28 percent.

Lloyd said it was a promising sign for players balancing a delicate string of work, sport, and study with little compensation.

“I think, as it is now, in two or three years, they will make a living playing rugby league,” he said.

For Gold Stars captain Romy Teitzel, the prospect of a Cowboys women’s team would be extra special.

The rugby league is in Romy Teitzel’s blood. (ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling)

“Growing up in North Queensland, everyone looked up to the Cowboys, whether you were a boy or a girl,” she said.

“Dad played for the club in the inaugural team for the men, so to run away from the wome ,would be unreal.”

Teitzel, who led the Newcastle Knights for their debut season this year, said she would like to see every NRL club draft a women’s team one day.

“Like many girls my age, we had nothing to grow up with,” she said.

“The game has grown so much over the last 12 months, and on a professional basis, I think it will only continue to skyrocket.”

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Dorothy R. Barrett

I’m a full-time blogger by passion. This is my first blog, and I'm excited to share everything that I love about technology, business, and lifestyle with you. I’m a writer by trade, and I can be found writing about tech, business, and lifestyle on my personal blog.

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