Canberra Raiders bid ramps up NRLW expansion talk

Canberra Raiders chief executive, Don Furner Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

The prospect of further NRLW expansion is back on the cards after Canberra launched their bid to join the competition in 2023.

Raiders bosses confirmed on Monday their plans to enter the competition, remaining incredibly bullish about their chances.

The NRL will run its first six-team women's competition at the start of next year, after the 2021 season was postponed through COVID-19.

The competition could then potentially go to eight teams for a second season at the end of 2022, depending on if new teams are ready in time.

However the Raiders' application for a side remains for 2023, meaning the potential of further expansion for a third straight competition.

Alternatively, NRL bosses could hold off and wait until growing from six teams until 2023 with the Raiders one of those sides.

"We were told we have to put the bid in, but it would be unusual for us not to get accepted," Raiders CEO Don Furner said.

"I am not expecting there to be opposition to that bid (for 2023), because we have the facilities, junior registration numbers and finances.

"And they want a regional team. So we're perfectly positioned to fill that catchment area of NSW country.

"So I can't imagine we wouldn't be getting the license."

Canberra will formally enter their bid at the start of next year, but used Monday's launch to make their case with the local Katrina Fanning Shield pivotal to their case.

The ARL Commission are due to meet on Friday and while women's expansion is not currently on the agenda, it could still become a talking point.

Wests Tigers, Cronulla and South Sydney are among other sides who have eyed off the potential of having NRLW teams.

Canterbury's eyes have also been set on 2023, after Newcastle, Gold Coast and Parramatta joined founding clubs Brisbane, Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra for the upcoming season.

The Warriors have dropped out due to COVID-19, with the situation unclear on whether they will return in coming seasons once borders are fully reopened.