Kiwi Ferns frustrated by lack of support as CBA dispute rages on

Wed, Jan 25

Despite the NRL being scheduled to start in less than 40 days a dispute over a new collective bargaining agreement rages on, leaving many– including some Kiwi Ferns – uncertain about their immediate playing future.

From boycotted media sessions to protests on social media - there's even talk of strike disrupting the first round.

The situation has left players like Madison Bartlett in limbo and without a club to play for officially.

“I feel like the NRL says all the right things but their actions don't match that they are supporting us,” Bartlett told 1News.

“They say they want the game to grow and things like that but everything they are doing is showing the opposite so it's pretty frustrating.”

Without a new agreement, female players remain un-contracted with no date for their season confirmed.

It also means no insurance or income if they get injured or fall pregnant.

Georgia Hale said it’s a scary time to have to weigh up big life choices.

Kiwi Fern Georgia Hale, pictured playing for the Warriors against the Dragons in Sydney in 2020.

“It's come down to a choice - do you want to be a mum or do you want to be a footy player?”

Hale, who is on the player advisory group, feels like the NRLW isn't stepping in the right direction After a massive year for women's sport including the Rugby League World Cup.

“We've just come back from a Rugby League World Cup to then come home to having these conversations at club level just seems strange and disappointing,” she said.

“You'd think putting on fixtures like that and having such an amazing tournament and making a product that people want to watch - how do we not have something as simple as contract security?

“The unknown of what is happening and the way we are being treated and things like that it can't be very attractive to younger players.”

But it's not just about money; the NRL salary cap has actually increased but without player consultation, leaving top men’s players like Nathan Cleary joining women in protest on social media while others have not attended promotional duties.

More than 100 players from the US are reportedly ready to fly to Austraila if NRL athletes boycott the first round scheduled for early March, but Hale said that won’t solve anything.

“We want to make sure that these conversations are had once and that we are the ones to have them.

“At the moment we have a voice and we want to use it, we aren't just protecting our game but the future generations of girls coming through.”