Official NRLW + HNWP - Sharks to enter NRLW competition in 2023

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Mako Shark
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In a groundbreaking development for the Women’s game at the Sharks and for female rugby league players and athletes in the local region, the Sharks were today granted one of four new licenses to compete in the NRLW competition from 2023.

Pioneers in the women’s rugby league space, with the Sharks having contracted the first professional female players back in 2016, the Sharks are set to be a part of a 10-team NRLW competition in 2023, joining the Raiders, Cowboys and Tigers who have also been added to the existing six teams.

The Sharks this year provided 11 players to existing NRLW clubs from their Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership team, six were named in the NSW Women’s Origin squad, the majority having come through the junior pathways, with the Shire having a rich talent pool of female sporting talent, athletes now given an opportunity to wear the colours of their local team and compete on the biggest stage.

A lot of hard work has gone in, going back to 2016 when the Sharks had a vision for professional women’s rugby league and to have it now come to fruition, where talented young players can stay and play for their local club, is really positive for everybody involved
Dino Mezzatesta Sharks Group CEO

Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta, who attended today’s announcement, was understandably thrilled to have the Sharks accepted into the NRLW competition

“Ever since the NRLW was proposed we’ve had a desire to be a part of the competition and for it to now be a reality is every exciting,” Mezzatesta said.

“A lot of hard work has gone in, going back to 2016 when the Sharks had a vision for professional women’s rugby league and to have it now come to fruition, where talented young players can stay and play for their local club, is really positive for everybody involved.

“We will now continue that hard work to build a strong and competitive squad, while putting the right people and resources around the team to help make us successful from our first season,” he added.

When entering the Sharks submissions, over 20 of the Clubs women's players, ranging from the HNWP team to young girls from the Cronulla junior league, were accompanied by club officials, CEO Mezzatesta and Chairman Steve Mace, the group boarding a specially branded Sharks bus before handing over the formal application to NRL CEO Andrew Abdo.

Much more than a publicity stunt, the manner of delivering the Sharks documentation was about showing how serious the Club was about being included in the elite women’s rugby league competition.

“From the moment we began investing resources into our women’s program some six or seven years ago, we have wanted to offer opportunity for our players to compete at the highest level. Following our successful bid and acceptance now that will happen,” Mezzatesta said.

The 2022 NRLW season, set to get underway later this year, will remain at six teams, before expanding to 10 in 2023, ahead of possible further expansion in 2024.

A key element of the Sharks bid application centred around the rich talent pool in the Sutherland Shire, with the Sharks fielding a Tarsha Gale team since the inception of the competition in 2017, while HNWP Captain Corban Baxter along with Sharks teammates Hollie Wheeler and Kiana Takairangi, will impart their knowledge on the next crop of emerging players as coaches of the Clubs under-17 Lisa Fiaola Cup squad.

Add to that the fact the Sutherland Shire has impressive numbers of women’s and girls playing non-contact forms of the game and the Sharks envisage a bright future not just for the 2023 season but well into the future.
 

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Hopefully we can add a few more trophies to the cabinet 🏆

Great work by all involved from the very early days onwards.
 

XGINGA

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This is great news and I am surprised at how excited I am by this.

I know it will eventually happen but NRL needs to fast track every team into this comp. I haven't watched much of the women's game other then the woman's state of origin and maybe if a game was on TV when someone else was watching, I would watch a bit of it but having a team in it makes me excited to watch and I cannot wait to watch every Sharks NRLW game.
Right now I could probably name like 5-10 NRLW player but now I will make sure to know every player of ours and who to look out for on other teams.
I imagine a lot of other fans of teams that don't have a team yet would feel the same once they get a team.
 

bort

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Hopefully we can lock in most if not all of the Cronulla girls who are currently with other franchises.

I think salary cap only allows for two girls per team to actually get paid enough to not have to have another job though so you'd think some of the 6 origin girls might not fit if they can get that better wage elsewhere.

I don't have a good understanding of NRLW and especially the cap though so I could be completely wrong about all that...
 

apezza

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Hopefully we can lock in most if not all of the Cronulla girls who are currently with other franchises.

I think salary cap only allows for two girls per team to actually get paid enough to not have to have another job though so you'd think some of the 6 origin girls might not fit if they can get that better wage elsewhere.

I don't have a good understanding of NRLW and especially the cap though so I could be completely wrong about all that...
How could you? Back in your day women couldn't vote and were largely at home raising babies.
 
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