Westpac has announced a new partnership with the National Rugby League (NRL), pledging to provide equal financial support to both the men’s and women’s game, through a dollar-for-dollar investment. 

The multimillion-dollar deal will have a huge impact on many aspects of Rugby League, however, Westpac spokesperson, Verity Boulton said that the company’s biggest goal is to level the playing field, providing female players with the same opportunity as men. 

“Westpac is so good at providing opportunity for women within the company, but then it needs to filter through with everything we do,” Ms Boulton said. 

“If we are going to talk the talk, we need to walk the walk, so by engaging in this type of partnership it’s really giving a proof point to what we stand for and what we believe in.

“NRLW teams are having to work full-time and then having to train after, so providing opportunity to help level that is a really key focus.”

The partnership will also see the introduction of the RISE Rookie Academy, presented by Westpac, which will assist in the identification, training and development of the next generation of NRLW players.

Dragons NRLW player Talei Holmes said the program will help build up the talent pool.

“It’s great that the teams are expanding, but we need to make sure that there’s enough talent to maintain a strong product and right now the talent pool is quite stretched,” Ms Holmes said.

“The Rise Rookie Program is exactly what the game needs, as it will help build and facilitate that talent at the grassroots level which girls can then build through to the NRLW level.”

The partnership will also provide support off the field, through the RISE Coach Development Program, aimed at educating and developing the next generation of coaches.

In addition, Westpac’s investment in the NRL’s Road to Regions program, has already given over 25,000 players, officials and volunteers, the chance to get involved in the game each year.

With female grassroots participation, Rugby League’s fastest growing area, the NRL has big ambitions for the women’s game, and Westpac is hopeful that the partnership will level the playing field. 

“In partnership with the NRL, with their vision of Rugby League becoming the number one sport for females, we hope that we can provide opportunity to help build that elite pathway to ensure that there’s enough talented women that have had the opportunity to play and get involved in the game,” Ms Boulton said.

“Our real goal is being able to build that platform and actually make a difference for the future of women’s sport.”

The partnership will commence on November 1st and will see the official bank and payment platform of the NRL, become the match ball sponsor, with the Westpac logo set to feature on all NRL and NRLW competition balls.