World Cup-bound Australian representatives Caitlin Moran and Bec Young could barely believe their ears on Friday.
On the eve of joining the Jillaroos in camp the Newcastle-based pair welcomed the $3.75 million allocation for the elite women’s game.
The landmark announcement was part of a historic $980 million collective bargaining agreement handed down by the NRL and Rugby League Players Association.
For 34-year-old Young it was the culmination of a lifelong dream after many seasons of scantly funded fixtures while for 20-year-old Moran it was the first sign of things to come and a potential career playing the sport.
“I’ve only been around for a little bit rugby league wise, but even I was getting impatient,” Moran said.
“It’s the news we’ve been waiting and asking for for years. Finally it’s not just a plan or idea anymore, it’s put in place and on paper now.
“It’s all happening and hopefully I can be part of it and if I get the opportunity I’ll try to make the most of it.”
Exact details of what the money will be used for have yet to be released, but the Newcastle Herald believes 40 full-time contracts, a four-franchise competition and a State of Origin double header are on the agenda for next season.
Young said she would love to see the Newcastle Knights, who were officially taken over by new owners The Wests Group on Wednesday, involved in some capacity.
“That would be the cherry on top,” Young said.
“I’m not too sure how the franchise would work and that type of thing, but to be part of the Knights program would be amazing.”
Moran and Young both featured in a women’s nines exhibition match for the Knights against Cronulla in April. They also teamed up in July for the first paid NSW women’s squad, with all 30 players signing contracts.
On Sunday they fly to the Gold Coast before opening the tournament against the Cook Islands at Shark Park on November 16.
Friday’s extended NRL statement included: “An allocation of $3.75 million for the elite women’s game – with the NRL and RLPA working together on new women’s programs to enable more females to play rugby league”.