THE NRL is set to roll out its own women's competition in 2018, the sport's governing body has announced on Wednesday.
Fairfax Media understands that a round robin tournament will run in the lead-up and alongside the NRL finals series, as well as a stand alone State of Origin match mid-season.
The tournament, which could include Bomaderry Talia Atfield and Gerringong’s Ruan Sim, will culminate on grand final day, as part of a triple header.
In addition, players will be offered national team contracts, with the Jillaroos also set to play matches in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
"We will have 40 Jillaroos contracted, and additionally, fully funded elite training camps throughout the year for our players," NRL boss Todd Greenberg said on Wednesday.
It is expected that up to six teams will participate, but it's not yet confirmed which existing franchises will be involved, with the New Zealand Warriors and Brisbane Broncos both said to be interested.
The NSW women's competition will continue to run during the winter, as it did in 2017, when Redfern defeated North Newcastle in the grand final.
"For the first time in our game's history, we have a complete series of programs, pathways and competitions from girls through to women,” Greenberg said.
"We're very proud of the work that we've achieved to date, and we're proud that we have such a strong base with which to launch the next phase of women's rugby league.
“It is the fastest growing segment of our sport, and has been for some time now."