Jillaroos great Kezie Apps says the game's female stars are putting careers on the line on a weekly basis as a drawn-out CBA saga drags on.
It's a continuation of a stalemate that looked at an end when the NRL and RLPA agreed to terms on a watershed women's agreement five weeks ago.
Agreed financial terms of a five-year CBA included a salary cap set at $900,000 per club that will rise to $1.5 million in 2027.
It also set a $30,000 minimum wage for a nine-game season and two-week finals series preceded by a seven-week preseason.
Confirmation of a draw and contracting window was set to follow, but neither has yet been forthcoming, leaving players unable to ink NRLW contracts.
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It comes at a time the NRL is expanding its women's competition, with four new sides looking to build rosters from scratch without the ability to sign players.
It's created a recruitment frenzy behind closed doors something akin to the Super League war, with sides desperate to land or retain marquee players.
It's put Dragons stars Keeley Davis, Emma Tonegato, Taliah Fuimaono and Apps in the sights of rivals, with some or all tipped to depart Wollongong.
Apps is yet to determine her future, but says all players remain in limbo as the CBA cold war plays out.
"My manager's obviously looking after that stuff for me, but we don't have a contract window yet," Apps said.
"We're still waiting on the NRL to sort out when we can have that security and when we can start signing for clubs. We're not even sure when that is going to happen.
"Hopefully ASAP, but we've been saying that every week. It needs to get sorted. It's getting ridiculous in how long it's taking.
"It's very frustrating and we just need it sorted so we can have that security and know where we're playing and know what our future holds."
Without the security of NRLW contracts, players currently absorb all the risks in turning out for club sides in order to prepare for a season still without a start date.
Rising Sharks star Tayla Curtis became a high-profile casualty of the stalemate last weekend, with the 20-year-old suffering an ACL tear before she could sign an NRLW deal.
While news of the in-principle agreement took the sting out of the issue on the PR front, it's looking more and more like a false dawn as time passes.
"At the time [the agreement] was all happening we definitely thought 'great, it's so close, they've come to this agreement, we should be able to sign contracts next week'," Apps said.
"It's been weeks and weeks and weeks now and it's still 'it'll be next week, or the next week'. It's so frustrating and I don't know how the clubs are doing it.
"We just have no idea what our future looks like and we're literally playing each week at our own risk. If an injury happens we've screwed up our whole year or more potentially.
"We've already seen a girl from the Sharks (Curtis) who's done her ACL and will miss out on a contract which is so sad.
"It shouldn't have been like that, we should've had all our contracts signed months ago, but we're still waiting."
While Apps and the game's other established stars can rely on extensive resumes, she said emerging stars have the most to lose.
"I'd hate to be a younger girl coming through right now," Apps said.
"There's girls coming through that may not have made a name for themselves yet, or young ones coming through with NRLW coaches looking at them.
"If something does happen to them, you could lose them. We need things in place to support them and make sure we don't lose these girls.
"We want to be encouraging girls to stay in the game, we want to encourage mothers who've gone out of the game to come back and play.
"It's really hard when you don't know what the contracts look like. It needs to be sorted."
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