2023 NRL Grand Final - Panthers v Broncos
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01: The Panthers players celebrate victory after winning the 2023 NRL Grand Final match between Penrith Panthers and Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Penrith Panthers have confirmed they have formally applied for an NRLW licence in time for the 2026 season.

Speaking to the Western Weekender, Panthers Chairman Peter Graham confirmed that the club want a position in the NRLW competition.

It is understood that the decision coincides with the return to BlueBet Stadium in two years' time.

“We have made a formal application and it's currently being considered by the ARL Commission,” he told The Weekender.

“We'll be without our own stadium for 2025 so 2026 makes more sense. The other reason is when we start it, we want to do it properly, so we need an Academy.

“We're going to build our own Women's Academy and that will almost certainly be in our football precinct.

"We're just in discussions at the moment about how we utilise some of the facilities that we've got over there at the moment.”

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While Penrith may have made a formal application, the NRL is yet to confirm plans for future expansion in the women's competition, it's expected the club's application will be looked at and will be a significant boost to the women's game in greater western Sydney.

Launched in 2018, the NRLW has grown immensely every year and will have ten teams competing in the upcoming 2024 season.

“There's a number of things we need to do between now and 2026,” Graham said.

“One of them is to put in place programs that will mean our good up and coming girls aren't attracted to other teams.”

Penrith already have a number of women's teams in other competitions, but an NRL licence would be the club's biggest ever advancement in the female game.