24 Jul 2020

Warriors women's captain wants opportunity to play in NRLW

6:26 pm on 24 July 2020

Warriors captain Georgia Hale says it would be hard to watch women from another rugby league club run out in Warriors' jerseys in the 2020 NRLW season.

Warriors halfback Georgia Hale in action on debut against Auckland

Georgia Hale on debut for the Warriors women in 2018. Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz Photosport Ltd 2018

With the uncertainty around trans-Tasman travel, Warriors chief executive Cameron George said a team from Auckland would not relocate to Australia to take part in this year's NRLW.

Instead a squad of Australian-based players, linked to a Sydney club, will likely take the field in Warriors colours.

However, Hale was still holding out hope that a team from Auckland could compete in this year's competition.

There are currently no women on contract with the Warriors and Hale said training had not started for the competition which will kick off on October 3.

Hale said former Warriors players and those on the fringe of the squad, including Kiwi Ferns, had been presented with several different options by the club for the upcoming season.

Options included flying back and forth between Australia and New Zealand as the team did last season, getting into a bubble for up to three months in Australia like the men's team currently are or having the team represented by Australia-based players from another club.

George vetoed a bubble situation for the women and with increasing cases of Covid-19 in Victoria and New South Wales the borders between Australia and New Zealand are unlikely to be open before the start of the season.

RNZ understands a number of potential players were suprised by George's assertion at a media briefing that he was backing a Sydney-based entry into the competition.

"We would be hopeful that it is Auckland-based, New Zealand-based, as it has been in the past, but some of these things are completely out of our control and out of the club's control just with travel restrictions," Hale said.

George said the club would support individuals who wished to get an exemption and go across to Australia, if their work schedules and personal circumstances allowed, to join a side representing the Warriors.

The women are semi-professional and the Warriors women of previous seasons haved worked office jobs, in the Police force, in education and have been studying.

The NRLW players do not earn enough from playing to support themselves and Hale said the financial situation would be among the considerations for individuals.

"Everyone's situation will be different personally, we've got a lot of mothers in our previous teams, work factors and things like that there is lots to consider," Hale said.

"Me personally I really want to be playing footy and I am hanging out to be playing some footy in that top end part of our game. I've loved my time in NRLW so far and I would really love another opportunity to be a part of another season".

Hale's dad Laurie has been with the Warriors' men's side during their time based in Australia this season as part of the operational staff.

Daily Facetime calls with her dad has given Hale some indication about what being based overseas for an extended period away from family would be like.

"We are hearing from the inside and what it is like being inside their own little bubble and having to be away from home, we're quite used to it with dad and his role he's done a few years of that being away at World Cups and we know he loves his work and he wouldn't want to be anywhere else but I guess it does help as well potentially looking at me being a player with the Warriors team being over in Australia and living similar so it has been nice having a little bit of insight."

George said he wanted the Warriors to retain a presence in the NRLW - even if it was just in name.

The Warriors were one of the foundation clubs of the four-team competition and played in the first game of the inaugural season in 2018 against the Sydney Roosters.

Hale is proud to wear the Warriors jersey and has represented the club she works for as an community coordinator each season.

She said she would grudgingly watch players from another club run out in Warriors jerseys in 2020 if it meant that the Auckland club could stay in the competition in the future.

"It would be hard to watch not being there but at least the club is being represented and we can look forward to then further years having the Warriors still involved, that would be the best case scenario as opposed to not having a team and then trying to get back into the competition in 2021, 2022 and so on.

"I know there is a lot of clubs knocking on the door to be a part of the competition and they are trying to control the growth of the competition to make sure it is quality and it's done right.

"If we can stay in the competition, whatever that does looks like, I do think that will work in our favour in years to come."