NRL takes on rivals with women's league

Steve Zemek
Ruan Sims believes rugby league is preparing to steal away the country's best female athletes

Rugby league is preparing to steal away the country's best female athletes, says Jillaroos captain Ruan Sims.

Wednesday's announcement that the NRL will in 2018 host an inaugural national Women's Premiership is a game-changer for the code and the Australian sporting landscape, Sims believes.

League has lagged noticeably behind other sports due to its lack of a female elite competition with the AFLW, WBBL, W-League and Super Netball all experiencing booming popularity.

However Sims says that's about to change following the governing body's announcement it will run a female competition featuring up to six teams alongside next year's NRL finals series.

The NRL will also host a national women's combine designed to attract some of the country's best talent from other sports in the hope of luring them over.

For the Jillaroos, a centralised contracting system will mean 40 players to be put on contracts on top of club and international match payments.

Sims said the opportunity would prove a drawcard for elite athletes and expected rugby league to pilfer from the ranks of other sports.

"Absolutely it is," she said when asked if rugby league would become a more attractive destination for athletes from rival codes.

"We saw the success Rugby Sevens had with that. Ellia Green was a sprinter before she went to Sevens and she's been a phenomenal talent for the Pearls.

"I think we'll see exactly the same thing happening within rugby league.

"I believe in Australia a lot of people grow up watching rugby league and they don't have the opportunity to play as a girl or a young woman.

"Now they'll see the sport that they loved and they grew up with as a potential career pathway."