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'No plans to cancel': NRLW a goer but schedule may be condensed

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has confirmed the Telstra Women's Premiership will "absolutely" take place in 2021 and hoped further clarity would be offered to clubs this week.

The NRL confirmed last month the women's elite competition would expand to a six-team and seven-week competition this season with a start date in line with round 23 of the men's NRL Telstra Premiership.

Players were due to begin pre-season training at their NRLW clubs last week but the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney has caused a significant delay across the game.

The NRL met with leading players, clubs and the RLPA last Thursday to discuss the immediate future of staging the fourth season with Annesley adamant the competition would be completed this year.

"The one thing I can say is we're absolutely committed to the NRLW competition going ahead this year," Annesley said on Monday.

"There are no suggestions of cancelling it. We're absolutely committed to it and maintaining the integrity of the competition.

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"We're not going to turn it into a nines competition or play it across one weekend.

"We want to make sure we've got a competition that is largely what we had planned for this year.

"We want to make sure we take into consideration the views and concerns for players. We want to make the competition as exciting for the broadcast partners."

A delayed start to the competition or condensed season with short turnarounds are among the options the NRL are considering before putting plans forward to the ARL Commission for final approval.

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Relocating players or placing them into a bubble are also considerations but unlikely given most of the players are part-time athletes.

"We do have to overcome some significant hurdles," Annesley said.

"Bubbles and relocation are definitely an option. They're a difficult option and we must plan it carefully to make sure we don't get teams broken up by players who can relocate and who can't.

"In many cases, players have commitments to employers and family commitments that make it very difficult for them to go into quarantine or bubble-like situations similar to NRL players at the moment.

"We have other options in front of us we're seeking feedback on in terms of a [possible] delay to the NRLW competition.

"I don't think anything is off the table. If anything is condensed it might just be shorter turnarounds.

"All of this information has to come back and go to the Commission. They all have pros and cons. We hope to have some better guidance over the course of this week."

NRLW clubs not impacted by the lockdown restrictions, Newcastle, Brisbane and Gold Coast, have respectfully not begun training sessions as the NRL works with all parties involved.