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Scott Bailey

Mental health warning over NRLW abuse

NRLW stars have voiced concern over online trolls ahead of the new season. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

NSW State of Origin captain Kezie Apps has warned social media abuse of female athletes could lead to mental health issues unless properly tackled.

The issue of online trolls dominated Wednesday's NRLW season launch, after Brisbane winger Julia Robinson called out several on a post on Tuesday.

The majority of online comments surrounded Robinson's toned physique, something NRLW players were adamant should be celebrated.

Broncos teammates and rival players have been in touch with Robinson and insist she is doing well, after the club also criticised the trolls.

However the issue of online abuse - particularly of a sexist nature - continues to be a concern for the game.

A 2019 report from Plan International Australia found 27 per cent of all comments on women's sport posts were negatively geared, as opposed to nine per cent in men's.

Close to a quarter of all negative posts on women's sporting sections were sexist, while another 14 per cent were sexualised.

The comments surrounding body image are also not the first made around an NRLW player this year, with similar problems during the early-season competition.

"It's definitely not on. And it's one of those things we have to deal with but shouldn't," Apps said.

"With all this mental health stuff coming's just so heartbreaking to think that people can still think it is okay to write those types of comments.

"It's not on and it shouldn't be. No one should ever write anything like that about anybody."

Brisbane teammates have made a point to throw support behind Robinson on social media.

Brisbane and Australia captain Ali Brigginshaw went one step further on Wednesday, encouraging all fans of the game to report any online trolls of NRLW players.

"The comments always come, it's about being thick-skinned I guess," Brigginshaw said.

"But if the rugby league community get behind it, and I'm saying everyone that watches rugby league report these negative comments (it could help).

"Us women are very strong, but if you're having that bad day and you see that comment, you might not be so strong."

Brigginshaw said the comments were particularly puzzling given Robinson's fitness.

"She epitomises a rugby league athlete," the Jillaroos captain added.

"She's the hardest trainer. Off the field, she is disciplined with food and how she trains and her prep for games is unbelievable.

"She's one person who sets the standard for rugby league and to see her shamed was just horrible."

Defending premiers the Sydney Roosters will kick off the NRLW season against Parramatta on Saturday, before St George Illawarra host Gold Coast and Brisbane play Newcastle on Sunday.

"I would like to see the keyboard warriors run it straight at Julia," Knights recruit Hannah Southwell said.

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