There’s a saying in sport… you never weaken a position to strengthen another.
And, with that maxim in mind, it makes me wonder if the Newcastle Knights are doing the right thing by moving premiership-winning NRLW mentor Ronald Griffiths into a new role.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a brilliant coach and an even better bloke.
He’s an asset to any club and a potential NRL leader in the making, he’s proven that already.
In the past two seasons, Griffiths has turned the Knights from wooden-spooners into competition heavyweights.
During that time, Newcastle’s claimed two consecutive titles; its first minor premiership in the organisation’s history – male or female; and dropped just a couple of matches.
He’s also overseen the rise and rise of halfback Jesse Southwell, who should have been named in the Australian squad for the Pacific Championships, Dally M medallist Tamika Upton, Yasmin Clydsdale, Olivia Higgins, Caitlan Johnston and Shanice Parker… the list is endless.
But, now, Griffiths will take on the coaching position of the Knights’ NSW Cup side in 2024.
And, he’ll be great at that, too.
It is a full-time gig, which is what he wanted, as opposed to the shortened NRLW format.
More importantly, it’s also a chance to further his own development while preparing young players for the next level.
The big question is: who replaces Griffiths?
From a couple of well-placed sources, Newcastle seems determined to employ a female to guide the NRLW team moving forward.
However, there must be more to it than a token gesture.
The best person should be appointed, regardless of gender.
Gold Coast Titans had highly-respected Karyn Murphy in charge, yet it didn’t lead them to glory.
Yes, they came close to upsetting the Knights in the grand final but, at the end of the day, they didn’t.
The other issue the Newcastle hierarchy needs to address is maintaining the culture currently among the playing group.
Griffiths was fantastic with that, he brought local girls back to the region to play for their “community”.
He knew the connection between the NRLW side and the people of the Hunter was crucial to their success.
And, he turned his players into terrific role models, who were superb ambassadors for the town.
So, who would be the ideal candidate to step into the breach?
I believe Ian “Bubba” Bourke.
He’s been part of the Knights’ coaching set-up for the past 24 months, he knows the region just as well as anyone and he’s a strong advocate for nurturing young talent.
Passionate Jet soars to new milestone
You’d have to go a long way to find a more passionate Newcastle Jet than Cass Davis.
A local junior, and true Novocastrian, she’s now in her 11th season with the A-League organisation.
And, this weekend, the 29-year-old – who made her debut in November 2013 – will become the most capped female player in the Jets’ history.
That’s an amazing achievement, 132 consecutive matches for her hometown club in the women’s game.
Touch wood, it’s been injury-free, too.
Congratulations Cass on a milestone to be proud of.
For more sports stories:
- Rob Stanton: Jets need strong showing from fans at home
- Zeke’s ‘living the dream’ with Jets
- Jets star Cass Davis lacing up boots for milestone match
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