Wests Tigers NRLW (Image via Wests Tigers, Facebook)

The NSWRL have confirmed the women's state premiership will shift in the calendar for 2024 to be played alongside the NRLW season.

The NSWRL have hearalded the move as one that will allow fringe players to be playing consistent rugby league during the main season, and to have teams better prepared for injuries, suspension and form issues during the rapidly expanding NRLW season that is played at the back-end of the season.

Until now, the NSWRL had played their women's state competition in the first half of the season prior to State of Origin, with most NRLW players turning out for a team in order to stay match fit ahead of the big second half of the year.

The QRL have had the same policy with their state premiership in the women's game, and while they have made no indiciation they will be following the NSWRL's lead, the decision from south of the border has raised immediate eyebrows.

In a post on Twitter/X, St George Illawarra Dragons NRLW coach Jamie Soward confirmed clubs have not been consulted at all on the move.

Despite that, the NSWRL's head of football Yvette Downey said the change will place less demands on elite pathways players and open further progression opportunities for female players.

“In the past our top women's Rugby League players played with their Harvey Norman teams and then moved onto NRLW clubs,” NSWRL Head of Football Yvette Downey said.

“Aligning our competition with the NRLW will have a positive impact on our elite players by placing less demands on them.

“Also in the past girls graduating from our Under 19s Tarsha Gale Cup were finding it difficult to move forward into a Harvey Norman open team.

“To give our Under 17s and Under 19s players a chance to continue their NSWRL pathway all the way through and then get the opportunity to secure a NRLW contract, the change in the 2024 schedule has been made."

The change does not impact the women's pathway competitions at under-17 and under-19 level and they will continue to be played during the first half of the season, kicking off alongside the male pathways competitions (SG Ball and Harold Matthews Cup) from February.