NRLW players hit out at revamped judiciary code, disproportionate penalties compared to NRL

The Newcastle Knights’ NRLW recruitment spree has landed another huge coup, with a Commonwealth Games gold medallist joining the club.

Newcastle has completed its impressive roster build for the upcoming NRLW season with the signing of Commonwealth Games Sevens gold medallist Jesse Southwell.

Fresh from Birmingham Games glory, the 17-year-old Southwell, who played in Australia’s medal-clinching win over Fiji, bolsters the already impressive Knights squad ahead season kick off on August 20.

Goalkicking five-eighth Southwell joins older sister and Sydney Roosters’ premiership-winning lock Hannah Southwell, 23, who has joined the Knights this season in another huge coup for the club.

Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

Jesse Southwell (headgear) played for the Newcastle Knights in the Tarsha Gale Cup this year. Picture: Richard Dobson
Jesse Southwell (headgear) played for the Newcastle Knights in the Tarsha Gale Cup this year. Picture: Richard Dobson

Jesse Southwell played in the Knights’ Tarsha Gale Cup (under-19s) squad this season but didn’t play in the grand final loss to the Roosters after she was selected in the Australian Rugby Sevens team for a World Series event in Canada.

The Knights are widely considered one of the favourites for the NRLW title after kicking off their recruitment drive with the massive signings of Broncos superstars Millie Boyle and Tamika Upton in a huge double which served notice to the competition.

The TAB has the Knights at $6.50 to win the comp with grand finalists St George Illawarra the $3.50 favourites.

Newcastle’s star signing Millie Boyle.
Newcastle’s star signing Millie Boyle.

“I couldn’t be more excited to arrive in Newcastle and experience what it’s like to run out in a Knights jersey,” Boyle said at the time of her signing.

“Everyone knows how passionate this town is about footy and all of the NRLW girls experienced that in round one of the season just finished.

“The team the Knights are building will be very competitive … there’s a good mix of experienced players and really exciting young talent coming through. The season can’t come soon enough.”

The NRLW season kicks off with the clash between Parramatta and the Roosters at CommBank Stadium while the Knights open their campaign against Brisbane on August 21.

FANS FUME OVER NRLW JUDICIARY INJUSTICE

– Selina Steele

Ten days out from the start of the NRLW season and rugby league fans have joined NRLW players in criticising the upcoming season’s revamped judiciary code for the women’s game.

News Corp revealed exclusively last week (see below) the new penalties for the next NRLW season, which starts on August 20, that now result in greater fines and suspensions for women than the men’s game.

An opinion poll currently has 68 per cent of the vote agreeing with players and the players union that the penalties are too harsh given the length of the season.

The NRL plans to impose greater fines and suspensions for women than in the men’s game.
The NRL plans to impose greater fines and suspensions for women than in the men’s game.

Season five of the NRLW will feature six teams: the Parramatta Eels, Sydney Roosters, St George Illawarra Dragons, Brisbane Broncos, Newcastle Knights and Gold Coast Titans.

Look out for the promotion of Jada Taylor to the Roosters senior squad after the U19 NSW Origin player starred with THAT 109 metre try.

The competition is set to expand in 2023 to also include the Wests Tigers, Cronulla Sharks, Canberra Raiders and North Queensland Cowboys.

‘DISRESPECTFUL’: NRLW PLAYERS HIT OUT AT ‘UNFAIR’ JUDICIARY CODE

NRLW players have lashed out at a revamped judiciary code for the women’s game that reinforces female players being disproportionately penalised.

A forensic look at new penalties for the next NRLW season, which starts on August 20, reveals greater fines and suspensions for women than the men’s game taking into account length of season and women’s salaries.

Many of the penalties are also heavier than the just completed NRLW season.

Players now face three-match penalties for a variety of offences — last year the maximum listed penalty was two games.

Titans player Tazmin Gray labelled the new model as “disrespectful”, while the players union said the NRL remains deaf to the higher personal cost to NRLW players.

Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

Titans star Tazmin Gray said the new judiciary model is “disrespectful”. Picture: Getty Images
Titans star Tazmin Gray said the new judiciary model is “disrespectful”. Picture: Getty Images

Gray made an early plea and copped a two-match suspension for a grade two crusher tackle last season — the men’s penalty for the same offence is also two matches.

But for Gray, two matches represented 40 per cent of her season.

Applying the same time frame, this penalty would see an NRL player missing nine weeks.

Careless high tackles (grade two and three) also carry the same penalties for male and female players, as does dangerous contact — grade two and three and contrary conduct — grade two and three.

“It’s disrespectful to adopt a model that treats NRLW the same to the NRL when it comes to sanctions,” Gray said. “This is the only time they want to treat us the same as the men but it’s completely unfair on us.

The NRLW will have a revamped judiciary code next season. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images
The NRLW will have a revamped judiciary code next season. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

“If the game doesn’t think one-match bans are a deterrent from foul play, they seriously don’t understand what playing in this competition means to us.”

Former Brisbane Bronco assistant coach and former Jillaroo Meg Ward added: “Yes, we want to be like the men, but we aren’t yet. To say this new judiciary is fair is just not true.

“To miss three games (for example) after sacrificing so much just isn’t fair and it is devastating for the girls.”

The NRL has sought to bring consistency between the match review and judiciary processes in both the men’s and women’s games.

The number of offences for the women have been consolidated from 15 to 8 and in keeping with changes in the men’s game, all players will start the season with clean slates with a rolling 12-month reset from their last offence.

In other changes:

• Players will have the option to accept a fine of $400 instead of a one-match suspension for first and second grade one offence that results in a one-match suspension;

The list of penalties and gradings for the NRLW.
The list of penalties and gradings for the NRLW.
The NRL’s list of gradings and penalties.
The NRL’s list of gradings and penalties.

• Judiciary chairman will also provide an explanation of the panel’s decision after every verdict is handed down;

• Former player Tarsha Gale will become a permanent member of the NRLW judiciary panel.

RLPA’s general manager for Elite Women Lina Caccamo said players supported the appointment of Gale and also players starting the new model with a clean slate.

“The new NRLW judiciary cannot be considered fair when the players will miss a far higher percentage of the season for the same offences when compared to the men,” Caccamo said.

“We value fair play and safety, but we need to acknowledge the flow-on effect of missing two or more matches, it’s huge.

“Especially at this point in the calendar with a World Cup around the corner.

“We want to prevent injury and to protect the players. We acknowledge that player health and safety must come first; however, penalties for charges have to be fair and proportionate to the season length and their salaries.

“While fines were still at a disproportionate level last season, the overall judiciary model was fairer for NRLW players with formal warnings and a points-based system, which both proved to be sufficient deterrents.

“There must be heavy scrutiny on the thresholds that are applied for the upcoming season, and we will be advocating for a further review long before season 2023 commences to ensure the next judiciary is actually fair for NRLW players.”

Originally published as NRLW players hit out at revamped judiciary code, disproportionate penalties compared to NRL

Add your comment to this story

To join the conversation, please Don't have an account? Register

Join the conversation, you are commenting as Logout