NRLW coaches push for 2021 expansion

Sydney Roosters NRLW coach Jamie Feeney (c) is hopeful the competition will be expanded in 2021.
Sydney Roosters NRLW coach Jamie Feeney (c) is hopeful the competition will be expanded in 2021.

Rival NRLW coaches Kelvin Wright and Jamie Feeney can't agree on who is the underdog in Sunday's grand final, but they're on the same page about an expanded competition.

As Wright's Brisbane side prepares for their third NRLW grand final in as many years, he has urged the ARLC to consider ways to increase the competition in 2021.

NRLW was originally slated for a longer season this year before the COVID-19 pandemic spoiled plans, but the topic will again be up for discussion next year.

And whether expansion means a five-team competition or more games, Wright is all for it.

"The quality of the games is getting better each week and obviously this year we had a very different pre-season as well," he said on Friday.

"We might have the opportunity to have larger squads which will help the development of players underneath the top tier.

"I'm really hopeful and I'm fully supportive of expanding the competition whether that's another team, but definitely more weeks.

"It would make a much more competitive competition and we'd see some really good football."

Heading into Sunday's decider against the Sydney Roosters, the Broncos remain the pinnacle of NRLW as they chase a third-straight premiership.

In a total of 11 NRLW games they have lost just one match - and last week beat their grand final rivals 24-16.

However, on Friday Broncos skipper and Ali Brigginshaw claimed they were the underdogs, saying the Roosters are the form team in the competition.

It brought a wry smile to the face of Roosters coach Feeney, who's side was beaten in the grand final preview last week but won their first two games of the season.

"It's interesting," he said when asked what he thought of the Broncos claiming underdog status.

"And then Ali telling us that we're the form team when we got beat.

"It is what it is.

"I don't think many of us read into it, but we're just preparing to try and beat the Broncos for the first time."

Feeney, who has previously worked with the NRL as an elite pathways manager for the women's game, said this season has shown how much untapped talent is out there.

"Having worked in developing these players nationally for the last few years, there's definitely enough talent there, he said.

"We saw it with the Warriors basically putting that team together from girls around Sydney and Brisbane.

"Those girls would have missed out on playing NRLW if the Warriors went ahead as normal.

"Those girls stepped up and put on a great display and there's definitely other girls out there who have missed out that if given the opportunity and some higher level coaching could definitely step up and field another team, or at the very least having the same teams play each other twice.

"The longer the season goes the better the teams are getting and a longer season would show some great football.

"Hopefully those plans are still in the works, the girls are ready for it."

Australian Associated Press