Caslick re-signs with rugby sevens

Charlotte Caslick became the highest-profile signing in NRLW history in 2020 but is unlikely to ever return after inking a new rugby sevens deal.

CHARLOTTE CASLICK. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Charlotte Caslick appears lost to NRLW after signing a four-year contract extension with the Australian rugby sevens team that she believes will last her through to retirement.

And after years of the NRLW cherrypicking the best players from the seven-woman code, Australia coach Tim Walsh is leaving the door open for female rugby league stars, who are continuing to be frozen out by the league's CBA dramas.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, Caslick joined the Sydney Roosters as the NRLW's highest-profile signing to date.

But any return to the 13-woman code now appears officially off the table; by the time her new contract runs out at the end of 2026, Caslick will be only months out from her 32nd birthday.

"I'll probably finish my career playing rugby and that's a pretty exciting place for me to be," she told reporters.

"I have a really great relationship with the Roosters but for me, I always wanted to stay at rugby.

"Unless I play when I'm really old, but at the moment I think once I get to 31 or 32 or something I'll probably be (ready to retire)."

The most decorated woman in Australian sevens history, Caslick's re-signing comes on the eve of the Sydney Sevens series and puts her in position to co-captain the side at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The side's shock quarter-final exit at the Tokyo Games helped sway her decision to stay with rugby, as a third Olympics and possible second gold medal beckon.

"Tokyo was a real blunder on my career," she told reporters.

"We just weren't in a good place in those key moments of those games.

"I'd obviously like to win another gold medal.

"I just can't wait to lead (the team) to those Paris Olympics."

Emma Tonegato, Ellia Green, and Evania Pelite are among the other gold medal-winning sevens players to have dabbled in the NRLW.

But the warring player's union and NRL are yet to broker a collective bargaining agreement for 2023, leaving women's players in limbo.

Laggard negotiations mean NRLW players have neither contracts nor private health insurance, which lapsed on December 31, for 2023.

Rugby Australia has not yet taken advantage of the situation by approaching specific players but Walsh would be interested in hearing from any women keen to make the jump from the NRLW.

A full-time wage, travel opportunities and the chance to represent Australia at the Olympics could combine into a strong pitch.

"The NRLW will sort out their CBA in no time and it's going to be for the better," Walsh said.

"If any of those athletes are good enough and have the desire to play sevens, then we'll certainly talk to them.

"We do have a pretty unique product. We're the grand prix of the contact sport game.

"It's sort of the top gun of women's sport, but it isn't for everyone. It's physically and mentally demanding.

"But we've always got the door open."