Women's players insured for All-Stars

Out-of-contract NRLW players will be insured during the All-Stars fixture, amid fears they would be unprotected as the pay dispute rolls on.

The NRL guarantees all women's players will be covered in next month's All-Stars fixture, despite holding no contracts with clubs as the pay war intensifies.

Several high-profile men's and women's players took to social media on Thursday night to declare their unity and that the fight was about more than money, with the female game a key issue.

Players have already begun to boycott NRL promotions in protest, with the potential of skipping broadcaster content another future option.

Included in posts this week from some women's players were concerns they were uninsured until signed with a club, with the NRLW contracting window yet to open.

That fear carries into both pre-season training for the NSW Premiership, as well as the All-Stars fixture on February 10.

However AAP has been told all players will be insured when they take the field for All Stars, as the NRL holds a separate policy for representative games that covers all participants.

That policy is also said to cover players even if they do not have their own insurance outside of the game.

The news comes as Newcastle star Tamika Upton became the first high-profile player to pull out of the match in New Zealand.

Upton told News Corp this week that she feared risking an NRLW contract by playing, given a serious injury could rule her or any other player out for the season.

That is believed to be a concern for several players, who are also uneasy training for state competitions without NRL deals or full-time insurance locked in.

The NRL has long stated it is ready to unveil its 2023 women's draw and open the contracting window to allow players to sign deals, with the 10-team competition likely to start in July.

The Rugby League Players Association, however, is adamant that the contracting window should not open before the collective bargaining agreement is finalised to allow for multi-year deals and other matters outside of remuneration.

Women's players have been particularly impacted by the protracted pay talks, given they did not have a collective bargaining agreement like the men's to roll over from last season.

Insurance is also looming as a battleground in the men's and women's pay dispute.

In the previous CBA, the clubs paid for players' private health insurance and were hit hard on the fringe benefits tax.

The NRL's proposal for the next cycle includes the players paying for their own insurance as part of the increased salary cap, alleviating the tax ramifications on clubs.

That would be included in the game's $1.347 billion total player pool over the next five years, with the latter representing a 35 per cent increase on the last deal.

However, the union claims the inclusion of insurance and other financial matters, combined with the increase in players through the NRLW and Dolphins NRL franchise, does not equate to the 25 per cent revenue increase the game has experienced.

"The devil is in the detail," RLPA CEO Clint Newton told SEN this week.

"In the last CBA we only covered around 600 players, this one we are talking about 1000.

"When you increase at that rate, of course the amount that goes to players is going to go up."