Why Broncos’ women are doing it tougher than men
Brisbane's two-time NRLW premiership-winning squad will be forced into a strict home quarantine, with many of the players to give up their jobs in a bid to make season 2020 possible.
The women's NRL season will kick off on the first weekend of October, with all matches of the four-team competition to likely be played in NSW, where the Roosters, Dragons and Warriors are based.
Due to the expected draw, the Broncos - who won the inaugural title in 2018 and last year's premiership - will have to fly in and out of Sydney for games and be subjected to similar biosecurity protocols as the men's team.
This includes having to live in separate rooms to the rest of their family, eating meals alone and only leaving their homes for training and games.
However, unlike most of their male counterparts, Brisbane's female players will also have to take unpaid leave from their regular jobs or step away from their primary caregiver role for their children.
These sacrifices could last up to six weeks for the Broncos as they push to claim a title three-peat, or even as long as eight weeks for those selected for the November State of Origin.
Brisbane's women's CEO Tain Drinkwater says they will have to field a new-look squad this season, with a number of premiership players forced to step away.
"Our players will go into home quarantine after every match," Drinkwater said.
"They can't work. They can only travel to and from training. They have to stay in a separate room at home, have separate meals from the family, they can't do school drops-offs.
"I'm proud of our players who want to make that commitment. It's really important for women's sport. From a club perspective we're 100 per cent committed.
"But, as a result, we won't have the same team. We have players who literally cannot afford to give up work.
"After the season, they will also have to home quarantine for two weeks. That's six weeks of not being able to work, not being the primary caregiver for your child.
"From a mother's perspective that's quite significant.
"Am I confident in our capability? Absolutely. It just means there will be a lot of opportunities provided to younger, up-and-coming players."
Representative fullback Chelsea Baker is one who took to social media last week to announce she had withdrawn from the NRLW season while it is understood powerful Maroons forward Rona Peters is also unable to return for the Broncos this year.
Speaking to T he Courier-Mail, Baker said she suffered from anxiety and depression at the thought of leaving her children - Maddison, 10, and Quade, 9 - for a long period of time.
Baker, who is based in Gladstone, has played in both of Brisbane's previous NRLW campaigns, moving away from her family to do so.
But she has been able to see her kids at different periods throughout those seasons, something which she would not have been able to do this time around.
"I know some of the (NRL) boys have made these commitments but that's their job, they get paid to do this," she said.
"This isn't my job. Last year I was away from home for 10 weeks in a row and my kids were crying every day. I had to make to a trip home after 10 days.
"Imagine that this time around. How would they last? It's the same for my husband. It's too much to ask.
"As grateful as I am for the sport and everything it gives me, it's not enough for somebody to give up that amount of time away from their family, jobs, everything essentially."
Originally published as Why Broncos' women are doing it tougher than men