Jillaroos stars Kezie Apps, Maddie Studdon and Ruan Sims have been included in a 40-strong elite women's representative squad.
The squad, which included players from NSW, Queensland and even Northern Territory-based Meg Ward, will take part in training camps as well as receiving regular access to top-level coaching, medical and high-performance staff.
NRL elite programs manager Brad Donald said limiting the squad to 40 was a tough task.
"The reality is, there are more than 40 players throughout Australia and many more in New Zealand and throughout the Pacific Islands that are playing fantastic rugby league – up to national and international standard," he said.
"The enthusiasm, commitment and positive attitude of every single player attending the women's training camp on the Gold Coast last month, as well as many more women playing in local league competitions, fills me with great confidence that this will be a fantastic year for women's rugby league, with a big future ahead."
The selection marks another step forward for the women's game – one that will include an NRL club-based competition for the first time in 2018.
Senior manager of the NRL Women's Elite Program, Tiffany Slater, said all signs were pointed in the right direction.
"Women's rugby league has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time and collectively, we have a long way to go," she said.
"I congratulate and commend the first 40 players on their selection in the elite squad for 2018 and in doing so, securing their position at the top of their game."
2018 elite Australian NRL squad: Jasmin Allende – Redfern (NSW), Kezie Apps – Helensburgh (NSW), Chelsea Baker – Gladstone (QLD), Heather Ballinger – Souths (QLD), Annette Brander – Beerwah (QLD), Brittany Breayley – Ipswich Brothers (QLD), Sam Bremner – Helensburgh (NSW), Ali Brigginshaw – Ipswich Brothers (QLD), Karina Brown – Brisbane Easts (QLD), Nakia Davis-Welsh – Redfern (NSW), Vanessa Foliaki – Brisbane Easts (QLD), Jayme Fressard – North Newcastle (NSW), Tallisha Harden – Inala (QLD), Kate Haren – Cairns (QLD), Kylie Hilder – North-Newcastle (NSW), Rikeya Horne – Corrimal (NSW), Kody House – Ipswich Brothers (QLD), Isabelle Kelly – North Newcastle (NSW), Chelsea Lenarduzzi – Burleigh (QLD), Asipau Mafi – Aspley Devils (QLD), Corban McGregor – Cronulla Caringbah (NSW), Caitlin Moran – North Newcastle (NSW), Rona Peters – Burleigh (QLD), Lavina O'Mealey – Redfern (NSW), Talesha Quinn – Cronulla-Caringbah (NSW), Jessica Sergis – Cronulla-Caringbah (NSW), Taleena Simon – Redfern (NSW), Ruan Sims – Cronulla Caringbah (NSW), CJ Sims – Ipswich Brothers (QLD), Amie Solomona – Brisbane Easts (QLD), Mariah Simon – Blackwater Crusher (QLD), Shontelle Stowers – Cronulla Caringbah (NSW), Maddie Studdon – Redfern (NSW), Simaima Taufa – Mounties (NSW), Zahara Temara – Burleigh (QLD), Tahlulah Tillet – Cairns (QLD), Elianna Walton – Greenacre (NSW), Sarah Walker – Beerwah (QLD), Meg Ward – Australian Defence Force Team (NT), Rebecca Young – North Newcastle (NSW).