SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Isabelle Kelly of the Roosters is tackled by Jessica Sergis of the Dragons during the round three WNRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Allianz Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The NRL have confirmed the NRLW will take place in 2021, although the current COVID situation in Sydney and Melbourne may force a condensed schedule.

The women's competition is set to expand this season, even taking into account the New Zealand Warriors pulling out of the competition.

Instead of three weeks in the regular season and a grand final contested in a four-team format, the new format was due to see six teams play a five-week regular season followed by semi-finals and a grand final.

Founding teams the Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons are due to be joined by expansion clubs the Newcastle Knights, Gold Coast Titans and Parramatta Eels.

Players were set to begin training last week, however, with Sydney in lockdown, those clubs were unable to and other clubs respectfully delayed the start of their own pre-season.

It's understood the NRL are looking at numerous options for the competition to proceed. It's original start date was set as Round 23 of the NRL season, however, that now appears unlikely.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley said the NRL were committed to the competition, but did flag the need for flexibility.

"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.

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

Annesley noted that it would be difficult to follow the men's concept and ask players to relocate, given players are part time in the women's game. A delayed start, he said, could lead to shorter turnarounds.

Previously, the NRLW grand final has been held on NRL grand final day, and it's thought the competition would like to keep it that way if at all possible, given the enormous exposure it gives to the women's game.

"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 delay to the NRLW competition.

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