National News

NRLW stars to feel the heat in new season

NRLW premiership matches may be subject to extra breaks in play after it was announced a new season would kick-off with a match in a noon timeslot in February.

The NRLW will operate two tournaments next year with the rearranged 2021 campaign beginning on February 27, leading into an April 10 grand final.

Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium hosts a six-team triple-header, with St George Illawarra facing competition newcomers Parramatta at midday.

Round two of the NRLW will also be a triple-header at Wollongong's WIN Stadium, with Queensland not hosting a game until round four.

"We've thought about the location because of the time of the year," NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said.

"So that's why we're not going to play in Queensland to start with. In fact, the first two meetings take place at coastal venues - that was quite deliberate.

"We play All Stars and trials at this time of year, so players are used to it.

"And we've got a great policy and a policy we take very seriously. So depending on the conditions at the time, we know that we have the armory to deal with that.

"If we need to have quarter times because it's unseasonally hot on a particular weekend, we will."

Under the NRL's heat guidelines, games played in increased temperatures are mandated to include more drinks breaks and offer shaded areas for players and officials to rest in.

Factors such as wind, ground temperature and humidity are taken into consideration and in the worst case, games can be cancelled.

But the NRL's summer switch has received the backing from the Rugby League Players' Association.

"We're working with the NRL to mitigate some of the concerns that can come with heat exposure," RLPA chief executive Clint Newton told AAP.

"Our heat policy has been in place for several years. We have seen in the men's game that there have been different challenges with the heat in the past."

Usually reserved for August, the rescheduled NRLW season includes new teams Parramatta, Gold Coast and Newcastle along with existing sides Dragons, Brisbane and the Sydney Roosters.

While NRLW fixtures are often played as curtain-raisers to NRL clashes, the February start allows for the women's game to enjoy their own broadcast platform on the Nine Network and Fox Sports.

"It's a great outcome for us to have stand-alone Sunday afternoon football fixtures that are on a free and main channel," Abdo said.

"(They) also don't really clash with too much other sport. To have consistency of time slots (allows) for us to really build a great live atmosphere."

© AAP 2021