League still investigating chances of NRLW expansion for 2021

The NRL is researching the best ways to expand the NRLW competition in 2021. Pictures: AAP
The NRL is researching the best ways to expand the NRLW competition in 2021. Pictures: AAP

The NRL won't put a deadline on expansion plans for the NRLW this season as they investigate ways to increase the number of games from seven in 2021.

Chief executive Andrew Abdo has confirmed expanding of the competition through more games or teams is firmly on the agenda but says there is no timeline to confirm plans.

It's understood the women's elite competition was set to be expanded from seven games in 2020 but those plans were scuppered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

New staff in the NRL's elite women's division have been researching the impact of every possible avenue the competition could take this season.

However, Abdo said it could take until midseason to make a decision.

"We're very focused on it. We're doing a lot consultation and data gathering at the moment and we'll look to make a decision as soon as we can, but it's not going to be something that's going to imminent," he told AAP.

"May or June we might be in a better position to look at what the competition will look like in September or October.

"It's a chicken and egg situation.

"You want to create enough heroes and content at the top to inspire people around what's possible, but you also want to make sure that they have the ability, that they play all the age groups and have good coaching and athlete development all the way through."

The NRLW is coming into its fourth season in 2021 but is yet to expand from the format it took in the inaugural season with the Sydney Roosters, Warriors, Brisbane and St George Illawarra the four clubs involved.

Newcastle, Cronulla, Wests Tigers and South Sydney are also understood to be interested in having their own women's sides.

And while growth at the top appears slow, Abdo said he was placing importance on the grassroots to ensure the elite competition is sustainable.

"We want to grow at the top and the middle and encourage and facilitate age group competitions around the country, so that all girls, all women who want to play the sport have a genuine opportunity to do that and a pathway for it," he said.

"At some point later this year we'll have a look at what that expansion might look like for this year.

"Not necessarily more teams, it could be more rounds.

"We want to do that sustainably and make sure we have the depth of talent because we don't want to compromise on the quality of the competition."