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Still No.1: The Jillaroos after beating New Zealand in 2019

Jillaroos coach Brad Donald says it's a positive step towards finding common ground with the NRL and Rugby League Players' Association after conversations kicked off with elite female players.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and RLPA boss Clint Newton delivered key messages to NRLW representatives via a video link on Monday with an intent to touch base every fortnight and keep the group informed.

While no decisions have been made around the status of the NRLW and State of Origin clash for 2020, Donald indicated the importance of Greenberg and Newton addressing the players had eased any immediate concerns.

Leading Jillaroos players had expressed their frustrations in recent weeks at the amount of communication sent to them prior to Monday's first meeting around their status in the game.

However, Greenberg and Newton assured the players the women's game remained a priority to resume should the men's calendar also restart.

Donald, who also works for the NRL in an elite pathway capacity, told it was important for players to be involved in future decisions and discussions, as they have been since the NRLW was introduced.

Jillaroos coach Brad Donald and Isabelle Kelly.
Jillaroos coach Brad Donald and Isabelle Kelly. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"It was fantastic to have Todd and Clint talk to the girls about the plan moving forward," Donald told

"There were some assurances that if any decisions were made that the playing group would be involved, which we've always done, right from the outset. 

"I think that it's picked the girls up in a time of uncertainty with everything, not just footy. A lot of people don't realise around the female players is a lot of their daily life revolves around their footy.

"They have to have a certain job to train or play for a club, move to another location. It was great to be able to have some chat around that."

The NRLW and women's programs are largely funded by the NRL and clubs but the suspension of the men's competitions has left players fearing their calendar could be wiped as part of cost-cutting measures.

Reports also surfaced from media outlets that two NRLW clubs – the Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors – were also set to pull out of the competition later this year.

However, Greenberg told players in the meeting all reports should be treated as speculation at this point with both the RLPA and NRL eager to work with players to find a suitable resolution.

"The fact that the NRLW is not off the table brings some motivation to the group," Donald said.

"It might look a little bit different, there may be some opportunities with broadcast and things that haven't been there in the past which Todd outlined.

"The players are hands on with the construction of the NRLW and we're big on things around expansion and quality - so it's good to have an assurance there."

In their advantage is the current broadcast deal in place for the women's game, which unlike the men's agreement, is sold to networks separately.

The RLPA is expected to continue with discussions with the NRL around further funding after agreeing last week to contribute towards player payments made to Australia's elite group of 20.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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