Raiders NRLW coach Darrin Borthwick is clearly excited by the prospect of starting a team from scratch.
It’s not his first shot at the task as he was involved in the establishment of two NRLW clubs prior to coming to Canberra.
He’s greatly encouraged by the support he has received since his appointment.
“It’s the buy-in from the staff, they really want this team to succeed,” he said.
And with four new teams coming into the NRLW in 2023, including the Raiders, the competition for players is fierce.
Although players can’t be signed until the NRL and the Players Association reach agreement on the collective bargaining agreement there is plenty of activity behind the scenes.
Armed with an estimated salary cap of $884,000, Borthwick is already formulating a potential team.
“We are really active in the market,” he said. “There is a lot of interest.”
Some of that interest is coming from the Brumbies’ Super W players. There are also two players coming from New Zealand and one from England.
But Borthwick is keen to sign as many local players as possible in the 30-player squad with a community connection crucial to the team’s success.
“It’s about the community and the region,” he said.
That community support extends to sponsors, with Raiders CEO Don Furner estimating it will cost around $2m annually to run the women’s program.
The nine-game season will additionally see players taking part in a six-week pre-season.
There is optimism that the season will eventually expand to a full-time program but for the time being players will be contracted for six months each year.
Individual player salaries will be around $30,000, meaning that players will probably continue to work while playing.
With the Raiders’ strong connections to the community, the University of Canberra, and a healthy sponsorship base there will be plenty of employment and studying opportunities for the players.
The team has already secured a major sponsor in Parbery Consulting. This will be the name splashed across the front of the jersey.
Don Furner likened the sponsorship from Parbery Consulting to the Raiders’ original backer, the real estate firm, Woodgers. When they entered the NSWRL in 1982 the team was referred to as the Woodgers Raiders.
“This is a wonderful day for us, it is a massive leap of faith from Parbery Consulting in our organisation,” Don said.
Let’s hope for some double-headers at Canberra Stadium next season involving the men’s NRL team and the NRLW.