Panthers confirm push for inclusion in 2026 NRLW season


Photo: NRL Images.
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Penrith is pushing ahead in its quest to be granted an NRLW licence in time for the 2026 season.

Panthers Chairman Peter Graham has confirmed the club wants a spot in the elite competition to coincide with the return to BlueBet Stadium in two years’ time.

“We have made a formal application and it’s currently being considered by the ARL Commission,” he told the Weekender.

“We’ll be without our own stadium for 2025 so 2026 makes more sense. The other reason is when we start it, we want to do it properly, so we need an Academy.

“We’re going to build our own Women’s Academy and that will almost certainly be in our football precinct. We’re just in discussions at the moment about how we utilise some of the facilities that we’ve got over there at the moment.”

Panthers Chairman Peter Graham. Photo: Melinda Jane.

The NRLW launched in 2018 and has grown considerably in a short time – with every game now broadcast on television and 10 teams competing in the upcoming 2024 season.

The NRL is yet to confirm plans for future expansion but it’s expected Penrith’s application will be looked at favourably. It would be a huge boost to the women’s game in greater western Sydney.

“There’s a number of things we need to do between now and 2026,” Graham said.

“One of them is to put in place programs that will mean our good up and coming girls aren’t attracted to other teams.”

Penrith already have a number of women’s teams in other competitions, but an NRL licence would be the club’s biggest ever advancement in the female game.

Troy Dodds

Troy Dodds is the Weekender's Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia's leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.

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