Queensland coach Tahnee Norris has hailed the decision to offer the same payments to their men and women’s State of Origin players, saying it is a game changer. Under the arrangement announced by the Queensland Rugby League on Thursday, the Maroons will pay up to $15,000 to players who take part in next year’s women’s Origin clash.
That is what the men’s team receive per game and it is a decision that will allow the state’s best female players to commit to the fixture without having to juggle work or other commitments.
Norris said the example of Brittany Bailey’s withdrawal from this year’s campaign highlighted the need for the women’s players to be properly compensated for their time and efforts. Bailey withdrew from the Maroons due to work commitments, a situation Norris believes the pay arrangement would have resolved.
“You’ve got one of the best players in Australia that had to withdraw from an Origin side and in tears having to do that,” Norris said. “To be able to say to the girls that we will support you, we will remunerate you and we’ll help you along your journey so that you can actually play football.
“You can concentrate on playing football and not have to worry about what’s going on in the background. You can fully dedicate yourself and your time to the sport. For me that’s an exciting part of what we can actually bring to the Maroons, we can put the best team on the park and that’s what we’re after.”
Norris is set to announce an emerging squad of women’s players later this month ahead of the first of a series of camps in December. That squad will be revised to 30 in March, with that group to receive a payment of $4,000 to compensate them for time off to train and travel.
The 19 players selected for the final Origin camps will then receive a further payment of $7,000 before the matchday squad of 18 players receive a $4,000 match payment for the 24 June fixture. For captain Ali Brigginshaw, who began her career having to foot her own bill to represent her state, the deal is a massive moment in the women’s game.
“It’s not about the money, we play the game in the same spirit but to be rewarded in that time when you’re away from family and to play the game in the same spirit is huge,” Brigginshaw said.
“It means we can have the best people playing the game. We don’t lose anyone to other sports especially and when you’re away from work, we’re not having girls lose jobs. They’re being being paid to be in camp and to represent their state and that’s probably the most rewarding part. Girls aren’t coming into camp stressed because they may lose their job over this.”
The QRL’s decision will put pressure on the NSW Rugby League to take a similar step, and Brigginshaw added even AFLW players had expressed their interest in the news.
“I’m sure I’ll probably have some phone calls and some chats with the girls after this,” Brigginshaw said about her NSW opponents.
“It’s not about saying the QRL are better than NSW Rugby League, it’s just we’re working together and the QRL are supporting the women and know that we play the game just as hard as the men and are being paid equally for that.
“I hope New South Wales jump on board and do the same for their women. I would highly recommend that.”