NSW players taking the field in Friday night's Women's State of Origin are rattling the tin to cover costs for their considerably lesser-paid squad mates, some of whom will lose money after taking time off work to join camp.
The huge disparity sees Blues players earn around $8,800 - including a $6,000 match fee - while those who don't play taking home around $2,800.
As if that gap isn't enough some of the Maroons's squad members will make $9,000 with players to receive a $6,000 match fee on top of that, following a landmark pay deal announced last November to provide equal pay for Queensland's men and women sides.
The deal is different from NSW's in that Queensland players are contracted for a longer period of the year and attend extra training sessions in the lead-up to camp.
NSW lock Hannah Southwell, who's also on the Rugby League Players Association board, admitted the pay disparity was tough to stomach, particularly with some non-playing squad members losing money.
"It's a tricky question, I'd like it to be obviously fair and equal, but I know both parties (NSWRL and QRL) have their own stance on it," she told AAP.
"But look, it's pretty sad ... we need the CBA in place as of yesterday, and that affects a lot of our problems, we'd have a lot more girls getting paid equal pay.
"It's not ideal but that's footy at the moment, I'm just feeling for those girls and hopefully we can change it in the future."
Southwell confirmed players who will earn the $6,000 match fee were doing what they could to cover costs of those who wouldn't, something she said started organically from respecting how hard the grind was.
"These girls we've got are really good humans and they just want to help out their fellow teammates," she said.
"I've obviously played with them at NRLW level and they see how much time and effort they put in to being here.
"They might see a little bit of an issue and they just want to chip in and help where they can."
A NSWRL spokesperson told AAP the organisation was committed to backing women's rugby league.
"The match payment fees for women's State of Origin are not fixed by the states; they're fixed by the ARLC," they said.
"The NSWRL invests significant amounts of money across all levels of the women's game, not just the elite level at State of Origin.
"The NSWRL would be totally supportive of the ARLC increasing match payments for women's State of Origin players - subject to the capacity of the ARLC to do so - and ultimately to bring them in line with the payments for our men's State of Origin players."
The spokesperson noted the NSWRL backs second-tier representative programs such as the City v Country match and the Country Championships, which they labelled a "significant differentiator from Queensland".
Australian Associated Press
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