NRLW Dragons coach says women’s bubble ‘over the top’

“I’ve had to put two contractors off because I didn’t want them on the site around me … so I’ve lost money out of this,” he said. “I’ve lost staff out of this. They work for the Dragons in the community, they go into schools every day and teach kids healthy lifestyles and they’re high risk because they’re in a different environment every day.

“It could have been done better.”

Dragons and NSW Origin star Maddie Studdon is yet to be cleared to take part in the NRLW season.

Dragons and NSW Origin star Maddie Studdon is yet to be cleared to take part in the NRLW season.Credit:NRL Photos

Some of those on the 2020 NRLW Dragons squad, which was announced on Thursday, are still waiting for their tick of approval from the governing body.

Origin star Maddie Studdon is yet to be cleared by the NRL and, as a result, is watching Dragon’s NRLW training sessions on the sidelines.

Lacey said the logic of the women’s bubble is flawed, as Studdon is still able to play for the Sharks in the NSWRL Women’s Premiership. Her Sharks squad features a number of her fellow Dragons teammates, who she is unable to train with in an NRLW setting.

It has forced Lacey to put a number of women eager for a contract “on hold” in case one of his players is considered too “high risk” at the 11th hour.

Lacey, who is also a painter, was asked to give up work on some work sites which were considered too busy.

Lacey, who is also a painter, was asked to give up work on some work sites which were considered too busy.Credit:Brook Mitchell

“It’s just disappointing that you talk to a girl and say, ‘By the way, we want you to play, but what’s your lifestyle like?'” he said. “Because that will determine if you’re going to get a contract. And they will do anything – they’ll live on a couch – but it’s not fair.”

Andy Patmore is on staff with the Dragons and works in a school of 950 children. He has been cleared by the NRL, alongside a player who works as a school teacher in a school with 450 students. But some of the office workers have been denied clearances, while a player who is an osteopath has been cleared.

‘They don’t know what they can and can’t do and they have to work,” Lacey said. “They’re saying well how can she do that and I can’t do this … I’m just like, I don’t know, I don’t have the answers.”

Lacey has also urged the NRL to consider compensating players who have been forced to give up work without pay for the season, with many ending up out of pocket this year due to the strict COVID-19 protocols.

“I can understand why they are doing it [the protocols], but these girls have given us enough as it is,” he said. “We ask it from the boys … they struggled as well and some of them are on $800,000. It’s not too much of a struggle if they are compensated but for the girls, their contract money doesn’t go up and they’re making sacrifices too.”

All NRLW players will be required to submit a daily entry to the NRL to track their movement.


NRLW players will be kept completely separate from the men’s teams throughout their season, which starts on October 3, and will use separate change rooms for double and triple-headers. The NRL and NRLW will also not be allowed to do joint-media opportunities.

2020 Dragons NRLW squad

Elsie Albert, Kezie Apps, Shaylee Bent, Teagan Berry, Sam Bremner, Jaime Chapman, Keeley Davis, Jade Etherden, Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa’amausili, Steph Hancock, Talei Holmes, Rikeya Horne, Ellie Johnston, Isabelle Kelly, Mahalia Murphy, Georgia Page, Christine Pauli, Tiana Penitani, Jessica Sergis, Maddie Studdon, Shakiah Tungai, Maddison Weatherall

2020 Roosters NRLW squad

Charlotte Caslick, Kennedy Cherrington, Quincy Dodd, Vanessa Foliaki, Grace Hamilton, Filomina Hanisi, Melanie Howard, Jocelyn Kelleher, Bobbi Law, Amelia Mafi, Nita Maynard, Corban McGregor, Yasmin Meakes, Brydie Parker, Shanice Parker, Kaitlyn Phillips, Taleena Simon, Zahara Temara, Simaima Taufa, Sarah Togatuki, Hannah Southwell, Botille Vette-Welsh

2020 Warriors NRLW squad

Stephanie Ball, Madison Bartlett, Karina Brown, Brianna Clark, Kirra Dibb, Samantha Economos, Crystal Tamarua, Tazmin Gray, Ellia Green, Georgia Hale, Naomi Kara, Teaghan Hartigan, Taimane Levu, Laken Paitai, Kanyon Paul, Michaela Peck, Evania Pelite, Hilda Peters, Shaniah Power, Kayla Sauvao, Simone Smith, Shontelle Stowers

2020 Broncos NRLW squad

Ali Brigginshaw, Raecene McGregor, Tamika Upton, Julia Robinson, Meg Ward, Millie Boyle, Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Amber Hall, Tarryn Aiken, Annette Brander, Lavinia Gould, Tallisha Harden, Jayme Fressard, Lauren Brown. Eight more signings to come.

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